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College of the Sciences
Give to Math

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Mathematics Department
Samuelson Hall
Room 208
(509) 963-2103


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Academic Literacy Skills in Mathematics

Content area literacy is essential to understanding and applying key mathematical concepts. The National Council for Teachers of Mathematics (2000) calls upon the use of literacy (reading, writing, and critical thinking) to encourage students to communicate their thinking skills and to develop deeper understandings of mathematical ideas. The specialized vocabulary and text structures used in mathematics texts makes this especially difficult for some students, especially those with language-related needs. The ability of educators to support students' academic literacy skills within content math instruction is essential for improving critical thinking and achievement (Torgeson, 2007).

CRAFTing Academic Literacy Skills for Mathematics Achievement

Many TQOV professional development activities center on the use of an academic literacy framework, CRAFT, to support teacher planning and delivery of secondary math lessons and units. CRAFT (Curran, 2007, 2008) is designed to support access to higher level math concepts through supportive literacy access. The CRAFT framework is based on five key areas of academic literacy. Evidence-based strategies in framework areas address critical mathematics academic literacy allowing improved student access and achievement.

The CRAFT framework is based upon a systematic review of research and professional best practices supporting adolescent literacy in content area instruction. For the TQOV grant it has been tailored specifically to address mathematics literacy needs and content. The framework allows teachers to systematically evaluate and plan lessons, units and projects that maximize student participation and understanding.

The CRAFT Framework

Elements of the framework include:

C: Create Personal Connections & Motivation
Evidence-based strategies may include the use of anticipation guides, activation of background knowledge, KWL chart, concept maps, advance organizers, or goal-setting activities.

R: Ready Instruction and Materials
Evidence-based strategies may include teacher analysis of the text and materials used to teach a particular concept, and student review of text/material friendliness. Resulting decisions for enhancement might include differentiated instruction strategies , peer grouping or learning options, universal design and technology.

A: Address & Directly Teach Comprehension
Evidence-based strategies may include the use of before, during and after reading strategies such as SQRQCQ, Prediction, Preview, Summarization, Problem Solving Guides, Think Alouds, etc.

F: Fuse Structures for Critical Thinking & Understanding
Evidence-based strategies may include the use of discussion guides, graphic organizers, visual/spatial displays, structured notes or study guides.

T: Target Strategies & Supports for Vocabulary and Writing
Evidence-based strategies may include the use of vocabulary tools such as Frayer charts, mnemonic strategies or instruction in key areas such as root words, synonyms and antonyms, etc. Writing strategies may include the use of dialogues or mathematics journals, learning logs, RAFT papers, etc.


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