Friday, June 12, 2009

Topic: Pen Pals, Second Graders, Pre-Service Teachers and Math

10-second review: The students made up math problems for their pen pals, second-graders and pre-service teachers. Gave the letter writing purpose beyond the “get-to-know-you.”

Title "Writing a Mathematics Community: A Pen Pal Inquiry Project.” L Norton-Meier, C Drake and M Tidwell. Language Arts (March 209), 245-256. A publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Summary/quote: “My second-grade students were pen pals with teacher education students this year. They had opportunities to practice their letter-writing skills, which is one of our writing requirements for second grade."

“We sent information about ourselves, wrote math story problems for the pen pals to solve, and answered the math story problems sent by the pen pals. The latter activity required my students to write out their work and their understandings of the math concepts."

“The second-grade students were so proud to have new friends. Their friendly letters improved over the semester as a result of having an authentic audience, and the bond between the students was amazing. I was pleasantly surprised by how comfortable my students were in talking and working with their pen pals."

“They had so much fun while working on story problems that they didn’t realize they were actually making themselves work harder trying to “trick” their pen pals by using large numbers and writing complicated problems. Socially and intellectually, it was a big ego boost for my students.” Ms. Larsen. 2nd-grade teacher, interview data, May 2007.

Comment: What an ingenious idea. Second-graders tried to “trick” their pen pals, other second-graders and teacher education students in college, who also had to explain how they solved the word problems. Suggests the use of other subject areas in pen-pal exchanges and inquiries. RayS.

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