blog stats
NumberFix: Exploring Patterns & Writing Word Problems with "The Grapes of Math"

A Writing Across the Curriculum Lesson from NumberFix
Math Topic: patterns Students Write: an illustrated book with rhyming math problems

Navigating WritingFix:

WritingFix Homepage

NumberFix Homepage

Writing Across the Curriculum Homepage

Writing for Math Class:
Exploring Patterns & Writing Word Problems

This writing across the curriculum lesson was written by NumberFix Coordinator, Holly Young, who designed it for students in grades 6-12. Check out Holly's Making Mathematicians website.

This lesson was proposed to NumberFix using this template. If you have a math/mentor text lesson you'd like to have published, fill out the template and send it to Holly Young, our NumberFix Coordinator: We'll send you an NNWP Print Publication if we post your lesson here!

Lesson Overview & Objective:

Students write and illustrate their own book of patterns, similar to how Greg Tang describes different ways to examine common problems in The Grapes Of Math. This lesson can be used with any content, but the focus is having students make formulas understandable for themselves. They will be examining what patterns they notice and snappy ways to remember difficult topics.

Students are encouraged to examine patterns in a topic and reflect upon ways to make the patterns understandable to themselves and others. Another benefit to using this mentor text is that students can reflect on how the new information that they have learned interrelates.

Writing skills (traits) to stress while teaching this lesson:

  • Idea Development (putting learned information and research into one's own words)
  • Voice (Conveying passion towards the message of the writing or the topic; Thinking about and making decisions to acknowledge the intended audience)
  • Conventions (using correct spelling, especially of mathematic vocabulary words from their research)

Materials List:

Teacher Instructions:

  • Teacher reads The Grapes of Math by Greg Tang. Before reading, have students listen for the "different" way to solve the problem on each page.  After reading - focus on one page and it's accompanying answer blurb (I like the page For the Birds).  Ask students to brainstorm how many ways there are to solve the problem, including the obvious strategy of just counting the eggs.  It is important for students to value even the simplest strategy, but also to acknowledge that each strategy may be more efficient in different problem-solving situations.  Make sure that students understand the author's clues on how to solve the problem a different way and the author's answer explanation.
  • Teacher shares/brainstorms topics that the students have studied recently. (this assignment works well for topics that have many formulas, such as surface area/volume or patterns like slope and linear functions). Once topics are listed ask students to work in pairs to choose one topic and discuss 1) How the topic can be solved (at least 2 different ways), 2) An interesting way to remember the topic and how it works, and 3) How this topic relates to another math concept.   Have students partners share out either to the entire class or in smaller groups.
  • Teacher shows a student sample (or teacher-made sample).  If the teacher does not have an age appropriate sample, then the class works as a whole group to take one student pair generated idea and create a page from The Grapes of Math together.
  • Students are given assignment sheet & rubric.  It is critical that students look closely at the rubric, so that the focus remains upon idea development.  It is difficult for students to explain their thinking clearly, so teacher modeling may be necessary.
  • Students are given ample time to work on the assignment either in class or outside of class. Teachers can use this part of the lesson to encourage revision.  Teachers might have students assess one another's rough draft of this project so that students could improve upon their book before making the finished pages.
  • Students read one another’s books and use rubric to grade.
  • Class shares any outstanding examples.

Student Samples:

Below, find samples of pages from three of Holly's high school students who completed this assignment. If you have an excellent sample that you can photograph and send to us after teaching this lesson, we'll say "Thanks!" by sending you a copy of one of the NNWP's Print Resources for your classroom. Contact Holly ( if you're interested.

(Click on the picture above to see a close-up of the writing.)

(Click on the picture above to see a close-up of the writing.)

Sample Answer Sheet:
(Students must also submit answer sheets for their books' pages.
Here is a sample, which came with the two examples above.)

(Click on the picture above to see a close-up of the writing.)

(Click on the picture above to see a close-up of the writing.)

Sample Answer Sheet:
(Students must also submit answer sheets for their books' pages. Here is a sample.)


WritingFix Homepage NumberFix Homepage  Writing Across the Curriculum Homepage
© WritingFix. All rights reserved.