Writing in mathematics has already been recognized as a very meaningful learning activity. Johnson (1983) suggests that if students can write clearly about mathematical concepts, then they probably understand them. In my classes, I frequently give students opportunities to write. Students write about their problem-solving strategies and about their understanding of new concepts; they also try their hand at writing word problems. Last year, my eighth-grade first-year-algebra students worked in groups writing a chapter on factoring polynomials for an algebra textbook. This was the first time I had used writing as an integral part of a long-term assignment. The two-week project described in this article was designed as a response to the students' need for new learning experiences and my need for new assessment tools. As an added benefit, the activity proved to be an excellent way for students to review material in a way that made them think in fresh terms.
Fanny Sosenke is interested in investigating the best ways to teach mathematics to students who believe that they cannot do mathematics.