Math, Reading

Reading in Mathematics? Absolutely!!

Reading in Mathematics?  When I was a student in elementary school these two subjects were not only separate but almost complete opposite.  Today however, my perception has changed and I see more similarities between the two than differences.

First of all, there IS reading in mathematics…reading of textbooks, word problems, literature, the whiteboard…the ability to read supports the student’s ability to take in information, comprehend problems and creating meaning.

Secondly, reading at it’s very essence is thinking.  It is the interpretation of a set of symbols (letters and words), and using our understanding of the symbols to create meaning.  This process must involve thinking.  Likewise, mathematics is the interpretation of a set of symbols (numbers, objects, representations, letters, and words) to create meaning, and gain understanding.   This process must also involve thinking.   Since both subjects are looking to strengthen thinking it only makes sense that we use the strategies and supports for strengthen student thinking, and comprehension in reading to strengthen thinking and understanding in math.  Creating consistency between the strategies can foster students ability to make connections and allows them to build on an existing foundation within a new context.

In reading we use the Super 7 Reading Strategies to support thinking and comprehension.  In mathematics these same strategies can be built upon to support mathematical thinking comprehension.



Making Connections

  • Text to Self
  • Text to Text
  • Text to World
Making Connections

  • Math to Self
  • Math to Math
  • Math to World

  • Creating a mental image to help construct meaning

  • Creating a mental image to help construct meaning

  • Drawing conclusions
  • Making predictions
  • Reflecting on reading

  • Constructing answers
  • Estimation
  • Reflecting on mathematical thinking
Determining Importance

  • Determining topic and main idea
  • Determining author’s message
  • Using knowledge of narrative or expository text features/structures
  • Determining relevance
Determining Importance

  • Determining what is given in the problem
  • Determining what we are being asked to discover
  • Using existing knowledge in mathematics to solve new problems
  • Determining relevance

  • Reviewing, sorting and sifting through information leading to new insight as thinking evolves

  • Reviewing, sorting and sifting through mathematical problems and information which leads to new insights in math
Monitoring and Repairing Comprehension

  • Monitoring understanding and knowing how to adjust when meaning breaks down
Monitoring and Repairing Mathematical Thinking

  • Monitoring understanding and knowing when to stop and adjust (when thinking breaks down)
  • Identifying where thinking broke down and trying another solution

  • Clarifying meaning by asking questions before, during and after reading to deepen comprehension

  • Clarifying mathematical thinking by asking questions before, during, and after solving problems to deepen understanding
  • Asking questions of others about their strategies for solving problems.

So next time you are explicitly teaching comprehension strategies to your students in reading consider the possibility of expanding on those strategies in mathematics.  As Maggie Siena  (2009) so eloquently puts it “we can become more effective teachers of mathematics by drawing from our successful experiences with teaching literacy.  It’s the art of lighting two candles with one flame” (p.2).


From Reading to MathSiena, M. (2009). From reading to math. Sausalito, CA: Math Solutions.


Choosing My Own Evaluation Adventure- Developing a Plan

Assignment number 2 of my Program Evaluation class has me digging into a given program and choosing a model that I feel is appropriate to evaluate the program.  The program we have been provided with is prenatal exercise program for Aboriginal women.  This program was designed to address the concerns around the high incidence of Gestational Diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes among North American’s Aboriginal population.  This Saskatoon based program was initiated around an inquiry into whether physical activity among Aboriginal women during their childbearing years could play a major role in optimizing healthy pregnancies and in reducing rates of type 2 diabetes in future generations.

CIPP Model
Adapted from Stufflebeam’s CIPP Evaluation Model (1983)

Once again I would suggest that the CIPP Model by Stufflebeam would be an appropriate model for conducting an evaluation on this program.  My recommendation is based partially on the belief that this model would be a good fit and partially because it is one the model we have studied that makes the most sense to me…just being honest.  Stufflebeam’s model is straightforward and focuses evaluators on four core concepts- Context (Goals), Input (Plans), Process (Actions), and Product (Outcomes).  By applying these four concepts to the Aboriginal Prenatal Exercise Program I believe program designers would be able to gain a valuable insight into effectiveness of the program to date and necessary information into how to improve.  In this way the evaluation would be formative in nature.

I believe this model will work in this case for several reasons:

  • Evaluation within each concept will provide information into the effectiveness/ quality of the program goals, plans, actions and outcomes.  This would provide insight into what works and where potential changes need to be made.  
  • Data from each component could be gathered and evaluated.
    • Goals– Program Goals around decreasing Gestational Diabetes among Aboriginal women could be evaluated in comparison to research and similar studies across North America.   Questions around Is the research sound?  Are the connections made valid? Is this inquiry worthy of the time/ resources needed to actualize? could be investigated.
    • Plans– In evaluating the plans laid out by the program evaluators could look for coherence between the objectives of the program and each of the programs components.   The program appears to components around exercise, nutrition, pregnancy, education, and creation of a supportive community seem to be in place.
    • Actions–   Many actions were taken in this program to actualize the plans put in place.  Data from each action taken gathered.  In this component I would look at collecting data from the numerous stakeholders in the program.  In particular data from the program participants would be invaluable.  Questions around Did this program meet your needs?  What did you learn from the program?  What parts of the program were most valuable to you?  What changes would you make? What factors led you to attend or not attend? could be investigated through interviews, surveys, and/or  focus groups.
    • Outcomes– This part of the evaluation would led one to look into the medical data of participants, their children, and non participants as it exists now and into the future.  By looking into this data one could see if the goal of reducing the incidence of Diabetes during pregnancy  into the future and among the offspring of the women is being met.  By studying the health stats of non participants as well, evaluators can see how the results of non participants compare to those of participants.  Much of the data needed to make a summative evaluation would not be available this early into the program however current health data could be used for formative evaluation.
  • Each component would allow for multiple sources of data to be collected and analyzed   In this way the evaluation could be very thorough and comprehensive.  Input from the many stakeholders, and their perspectives should be used to inform this evaluation.  It would be very important to consult with not only the medical personal involved in this program but also the community members whom this program effects.  In particular attention should be given to gather and honor the perspectives of Aboriginal Elders and Knowledge Keepers within each component of the model.

I am sure that if I was to actually conduct this evaluation more questions would emerge and the plan for evaluation would evolve to become more complete and comprehensive.  This assignment has created an opportunity for me to continue my learning with Program Evaluation.  One thing I have learned is that the knowledge of the content is not a prerequisite for beginning an evaluation.  I know very little about diabetes yet by applying the limited information I was given to the CIPP model I was able to “see” a plan for evaluation.  This makes me wonder if a richer knowledge to the content would have led me to a different evaluation plan.