The Mathematics And Reading Connection

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The Mathematics and Reading Connection

A children’s rhyme linked the domains of the three Rs-reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic-long before the whole language philosophy or integrated curriculum became focal points for educators. Letters, symbols, and numbers are the primary methods of communication in the world. This includes the universal sharing of ideas, concepts, data, and information. This common role in society creates a natural connection for the integration of reading and mathematics in the school curriculum.

Success in reading and mathematics is based on process skills that incorporate the integration of contextual information and with prior knowledge to produce meaning. The development of the skills involved in these domains could be considered the four Cs: construction, collaboration, context, and communi-cation. Knowledge is actively constructed in each of these areas. In reading, letters form words that symbolize objects, attributes or action. In mathematics, numbers symbolize amounts, patterns or relationships.

These words and numerical expressions create a basis for additional focus or information processing. This knowledge can be constructed and enhanced through collaboration with others in the classroom or workplace. Knowledge is communicated with others to share, compare and assess information.

Which strategies of learning language can be applied to the learning of mathematics?

The seven language learning strategies that can be applied to enhance the learning of mathematics. They include:

  • Creating a meaningful and relevant context for the knowledge, skills and values of mathematics.

  • Realizing the starting point of interest in mathematics is the knowledge base of the student.

  • Providing opportunities for the learner to see the skills, processes and values of mathematics by the teacher’s modeling.

  • Continuing to build on the knowledge base and challenging the students-scaffolding.

  • Facilitating the metacognition of the student by helping the student identify the learning processes and how he or she learns.

  • Assisting the learner to accept the responsibility for the construction of knowledge.

  • Building a community of learners in a risk-free learning environment.

These strands should be interwoven into the classroom environment to aid in the content, methodology, and assessment in mathematics. These steps will create a positive association with mathematics and mathematical relevancy in society.

What is the impact of reading on mathematical process and skills?

Reading provides both context and motivation for the mathematics students. Reading from a text book, trade book, or newspaper article can provide the students with a shared basis for receiving and sharing information. Reading can supply a common setting, environment, and details for application of students’ mathematical skills.

Reading provides an interesting context that students can explore. This exploration can occur either in a group with many students or with one student. In general, the integration of math and reading creates a relevant context for the formal and abstract mathematical processes.

The use of either fiction or non-fiction material can create the context for discussion and set the stage for mathematical skills. The specific areas may include:

  • Posing questions in mathematics.

  • Sequencing events in a story.

  • Questioning and seeking additional information students would like to know about a topic.

  • Developing recording skills.

  • Comparing and contrasting. For example, a Venn Diagram can be used to compare and contrast different versions of the same story.

  • Constructing charts and graphs to illustrate or determine the impact of details.

  • Counting through one-to-one correspondence.

  • Predicting and hypothesizing. For example, examing stories for patterns like this one: introduction, development of details and theme, climax, and conclusion.

  • Validating or persuading, using data or details to determine and support a particular position.

  • Conferring with others to generate new knowledge or to confirm a position on a topic.

What is mathematical literacy?

With support for the connections between the strategies, processes, and skills within the domains of reading and mathematics, can an argument be made for mathematical literacy?  Students become mathematically literate the same way they become literate in reading. Mathematics is more than numbers just as reading is more that letters. Literacy involves placing numbers into meaningful context in daily living.

It is demonstrated by students putting numbers to good use within the structure of their lives, their stories and their literature. Students work together, observing and investigating uses of numbers, asking questions, and planning strategies, to find the answers. These are the kinds of activities that can create and support the environment for mathematical literacy.


One of the purposes of this study is to investigate the overall performance of English Language Learner (ELL) students compare to their peer groups. Without any restriction, it can be reported that ELL group is the worst performing group in terms of the percentage of students who met standard in TAKS test.

The other purpose was to investigate the correlations between the reading and mathematics performance. It has been argued that there is a strong and positive correlations exists in all grades among the reading and mathematics performance for White, all and non-ELL students, but in case of ELL and Hispanic students these correlations are either moderate or weak.



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