For more than a decade, several authors have highlighted the benefits to students of writing to learn mathematics. Writing is an important component of communication in the classroom. As Principles and Standards for School Mathematics (NCTM 2000) notes, “Writing in mathematics can also help students consolidate their thinking because it requires them to reflect on their work and clarify their thoughts about the ideas developed in the lesson” (p. 61). Teachers probably will not use this tool, however, unless they have had the experience themselves of writing in relation to mathematics. This article presents a brief review of the benefits of students writing to learn mathematics. In the second part of the article, we invite the reader to consider another possible use of writing: as a tool to help preservice teachers reflect on their own growth as they learn to teach mathematics. We discuss some of the benefits that writing has for prospective teachers and present examples of preservice elementary teachers' writing that were collected in several one-semester undergraduate mathematics methods courses that the first author taught. The second author participated as a student in one of the courses. In a second article to be published in this journal, we will focus on the process of writing and writing for an audience.
Carmina Brittain interests include writing across the curriculum, teacher education, and educational experiences of second-language learners.
Edited byJulie Cwikla, Julie.Cwikla@usm.edu, University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, MS 39406-5045, andArmando Martinez-Cruz, firstname.lastname@example.org, California State University—Fullerton, Fullerton, CA 92834. Readers are encouraged to send manuscripts appropriate for this section to “Research, Reflection, Practice,” NCTM, 1906 Association Dr., Reston, VA 20191-1502.