Guest Blog – Language Arts + Math

Toni Sexton is a Math Teacher in New York City. You can check out her fabulous lesson plan on Pi Day here!

Gauging a student’s true comprehension of a concept can be difficult, especially in math! Students can go through the motions and memorize the steps without understanding why they are performing them. For this reason, applying language arts methods into a math lesson will actually enhance their comprehension of mathematical concepts as well as further their reading and writing skills (not to mention your administration will applaud your application of cross-curricular activities). Listed below are five tips that are easily applied to any routine; however, there are a few guidelines to keep in mind in order to maximize effectiveness:

  • Accept only complete sentences-the same standards that apply to an English course
  • Push vocabulary-this is a great chance to get students to use proper terminology

Here are five tips to integrate LA into math in order to assess a student’s grasp on content:

1. Instead of working out multiple problems, have them write a paragraph explaining how to solve a problem.

2. For lengthier problems, have them describe each part (as if it were a proof) out to the side of each step.

3. Use recording devices (I even let them use their cell phones for this) to verbally describe the steps necessary to solve a given problem.

4. Show students a problem that has been solved incorrectly, but still comes up with the correct answer. Have students explain, in writing, why this just won’t do, and correct the wrong step.

5. Pair students together and assign a problem. Have one student give their partner directions on how to solve the problem. The solver can only do exactly what his/her partner states (similar to the standard “write all the directions necessary to make a PB&J sandwich” activity). Then together, have them write out the very detailed instructions, containing explanations for their operations.

These are just a few tactics that I have used in my classroom. As we all know, each kid is different, so the real challenge is finding which activities fit individual learning styles in order to capitalize on gains. That is a whole different can of worms.

Toni Sexton

How do you use BrainPOP as a cross-curricular resource? Add on to Toni’s tips below.