I always loved the looks my students would give me when we would start to discuss the importance of reading in math class.
Reading. Math. Reading in Math? AGGGGHHHHHHHHHH! But this is MATH class. We don’t READ in MATH class. WHYYYYYY????? It was honestly one of my favorite classes of the year. Is that bad of me? Oh well, if it is, let it be.
It was even more entertaining when I told them that, after our discussion, they were going to be given practice reading in math. Their reactions generally turned from confusion to panic.
Most of us are math people or we are reading/language arts people. Students, middle school students especially, have a hard time understanding the concept of cross curricular learning. In Elementary School, many students stay in the same classroom for the better part of a day. They are used to learning multiple subjects in one room and receiving instruction from the same teacher. Once they get to middle school, everything is suddenly very separate. They have one teacher and one room for science. A different teacher in a different room for English / Language Arts. A different teacher still, in a different room for Math. They usually see 4-8 different teachers a day, in 4-8 different rooms. When they leave math, their math brain shuts down. I’m sure most science teachers would agree with me on that one!
Asking students to pull from their reading skills in math class is about as easy as pulling teeth. You bring up terms like “context clues” and “read entirely” and they kind of lose their minds. During my second year as a middle school teacher, I was SO frustrated with way my students reacted when given word problems. They would often look for the numbers in the problem and then perform some random operation on them.
I created a lesson that
forced them encouraged them to read. I took pride in knowing that, even for one single lesson, they were forced to read. Their grade was dependent upon whether or not they were finding key words and identifying proper operations, not just coming up with an answer.
I think it is SO important for teachers at any level to incorporate cross curricular learning into their classrooms as much as possible. We tell our students that they need to learn the things we are teaching because it will make them better students, they’ll need to know it in the “real world”, etc. But, how can we expect them to believe that it’s actually information they’ll need if they don’t need it anywhere other than in one specific classroom? So math teachers, encourage your students to read more this year! English teachers, bring a little bit more history or science into what your students are reading. Art teachers, have students measure things (you’d be horrified over surprised at how many middle school students cannot use a ruler properly).
If you haven’t already picked it up, download my FREE Reading in Math lesson. This was the first product I posted on TPT and the resource I used in my own classroom to get my students reading!
Are you met with resistance when you try to work another subject into your classroom? If so, how do you manage it?