How I Can Write Exponents When I Solve My Math Why Our Students Can’t Read A Math Textbook

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Why Our Students Can’t Read A Math Textbook

Most Algebra I students use their math textbook for a single purpose, a source for homework problems. Some math teachers ask their students to read their book as part of their homework, most don’t! Teachers know that students find the task of reading their math textbook difficult, for some, impossible. There are specific math reading skills that are different from ordinary reading skills and we are not teaching our students to identify and use math reading skills. The purpose of this article is twofold: (1) to identify five differences between math reading skills and ordinary reading skills, and (2) to discuss what should be done to help students read their book of mathematics text.

1. Reading speed: Let’s say you’re reading a novel and come across a word you don’t understand. Do you get your dictionary, look up the meaning of the word, and write some notes about the meaning? Readers do not expect the unknown meaning of a word to spoil the plot of the novel. When students are reading a math book and encounter a key word that is unknown, the lack of understanding of the key word can damage their success in the problems at the end of the section. In fact, it can spoil the plot of the section and possibly the plot of the entire chapter! A skilled reader is usually also a fluent reader. In mathematics, a sufficient reader is also a deliberate reader. You may need to read a passage several times. You should look up the meaning of each key word using a maths textbook.

2. Reading directionality: From early learning, the concept of directional printing for reading is taught from left to right. When you read math you don’t always read from left to right, in fact you may have to resist the urge to read from left to right. Consider the mathematical expression: 3 + 2 x 4

Reading from left to right: 3 + 2 x 4 = 5 x 4 =20

Reading mathematically: 3 + 2 x 4 = 3 + 8 = 11

Notice that you get a completely different result when you read from left to right compared to reading math. In this case, you must resist the urge to read from left to right.

3. Read with pencil and paper: Pen reading is a math reading skill that is critical to problem solving. This skill helps students make a connection between the information provided and what the problem asks them to find. Many word problems have hidden information, which is information that is needed to solve the problem but is not given in the problem. A student must read with pencil and paper when searching for hidden information in his textbook. Reading with pencil and paper is one of the most important math reading skills.

4. Interpretation of symbols: Since mathematics is a symbolic language, care must be taken in how you interpret mathematical symbols, the meaning of a symbol depends on the location of the symbol. Students misinterpret exponent notation and make common math mistakes over and over again. Many students make mistakes when entering symbols into a calculator, because they don’t differentiate between a division symbol and a fraction bar symbol. When faced with an incorrect answer, they lack the math reading skills to find and correct the error.

5. Independent learning: A student must have good math reading skills to become an independent math learner. As technology advances, it plays a larger role in education; more students are taking math courses online, especially at the college level. I think you need to be an independent learner to be successful when taking an online course. To become independent learners, our math students must read math with comprehension. In addition, they should be able to find and eliminate common math errors.

If we expect our math students to improve their problem-solving skills and become independent learners, our math curriculum needs a new emphasis. Our mathematics education programs must train future mathematics teachers how to teach their students to read mathematics with comprehension. Identifying math reading skills and how to apply them should be an integral part of our math curriculum.

Some time ago I developed and taught a math education course on how to read math. Recently Apple developed the iBooks Author software, my interest in teaching students to read math was rekindled because of the potential to bring this course to life through the use of instructional videos. iBooks Author provides the tools to write an interactive e-book that includes teaching lessons, and I jumped at the chance to create an e-book about math reading and problem solving.

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