Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Reading Mathematics

Question: How does reading in mathematics differ from ordinary reading?

Answer/Quote: “One hears the expression—every teacher is a teacher of reading—many times, yet there are too many who teach reading only for reading’s sake. Once a discipline other than reading is being taught, content frequently takes precedence over reading.” P. 807.

Quote: “Generally, it is a good idea first to read the material in mathematics, as in other subjects, rather rapidly or at a near normal rate, to get the overall picture and the main ideas. Then the material should be read more slowly, carefully, critically and analytically to fill in the details and specifics and to recognize the existent relationships. Some segments of the material may need to be read several times, each time with a different purpose. Children need to learn to look for relevant information, to determine what operations will be needed, to ascertain if all the information is given, or simply to read digits and operation symbols to solve a problem.” P. 805.

Quote: Mathematical material is generally characterized by its conciseness, abstractness and complex relationships. Moulder (1969) maintains, ‘…there are more ideas per line and per page than in other writing. In mathematics every word is critical because understanding the precise meaning of a single word may influence the meaning of an entire passage to such an extent that the reading assignment may be adversely affected.’ ” P. 805.

Quote: “In most subjects the reading material consists of words. In mathematics the learner must read and interpret words, letters, charts and graphs, numerals, formulas, and many different signs and symbols.” P. 806.

Quote: “The vocabulary in mathematics is often technical and specific. If pupils are to read and study mathematics successfully, teachers must give attention to vocabulary development.” P. 806.

Quote: “At times new vocabulary must be acquired; many times new meanings or more precise mathematical meanings need to be developed for familiar words.” P. 806.

Comment: I’m an English teacher. I’ve known many math teachers and supervisors. I have yet to find a systematic way of reading mathematics to solve problems. I will be looking for such a system as I read my professional journals. Reading mathematics is a time to learn how to read SLOWLY. RayS.

 Title: “Are You Teaching Kids to Read Mathematics?” CC Collier and LA Redmond. The Reading Teacher (May 1974), 804-808.

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