Employing Digital Tools to Support Writing in Mathematics and the Implementation of the Common Core State Standards

Employing Digital Tools to Support Writing in Mathematics and the Implementation of the Common Core State Standards

Christie Martin (University of South Carolina at Columbia, USA) and Drew Polly (University of North Carolina at Charlotte, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5982-7.ch021


The Common Core State Standards in Mathematics and English/Language Arts necessitate that teachers provide opportunities for their students to write about mathematical concepts in ways that extend beyond simply a summary of how students solve mathematical tasks. This chapter describes a series of vignettes about how digital tools can provide elementary school students with the opportunity to write about mathematics concepts that they are working with. Implications for providing these opportunities to elementary school students and supporting teachers are also provided.
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As part of the Common Core State Standards in both English Language Arts (CCSS-ELA) and Mathematics (CCSS-M), teachers are charged to provide opportunities for students to write and communicate about all concepts, including mathematics (CCSSI, 2011; Polly & Orrill, 2012). The English Language Arts CCSS require students to write arguments that support their analysis of substantive topics or text with valid reasoning and sufficient evidence. Further, students are required to write informative or explanatory texts that convey complex ideas clearly and accurately. The Standards for ELA stress producing clear, coherent writing that shows evidence of organization, audience consideration, and purpose. Students are expected to strengthen their writing through planning, revising, editing, and rewriting. Informational texts and technology are included in the standards to be used to support and produce writing (Table 1).

Table 1.
English Language Arts common core standards
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.1Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.2Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.4Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.5• Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.6• Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.

Meanwhile, the authors of the CCSS-M included eight Standards for Mathematical Practices that delineate processes that mathematically proficient students consistently demonstrate (Dacey & Polly, 2012). Among these are calls for students to construct viable arguments (MP 3) and critique the reasoning of others (MP 2). Both (MP 2) and (MP 3) describe a mathematically proficient student as someone who understands stated assumptions, is able to analyze situations, reasons inductively, and justifies conclusions. The Standard (MP 6) attend to precision states that proficient students communicate precisely, using clear definitions, state the meaning of symbols, specify units, and label accurately. The ELA CCSS and the Mathematics CCSS complement each other and reinforce the importance of clear, coherent, accurate writing.

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