Chapter 2 - Recognizing and Understanding Mathematical Vocabulary
Children come to school with a varied amount of vocabulary. They pick up on words when others talk to them, through daily conversations with others and through reading experiences.
When we talk about math vocabulary, it is a little more difficult to learn. These vocabulary words are not likely to come up in general conversation or children's literature (unless math related).
If students are to truly find success in math, they need direct vocabulary instruction.
Marzano (2004) lists 8 research based characteristics to effective vocabulary instruction:
- Copying the definition from a dictionary is not an effective strategy. They are often too complicated and confuse students more.
- Students must show their understanding verbally and non-verbally.
- Involves multiple exposures
- Learning word parts (prefixes, suffixes) can help with understanding
- 1 type of instruction does not work for all types of words
- Discussion is a big part of learning the vocabulary words.
- Playing with the words (games) makes learning them enjoyable.
- The words chosen for instruction should be the ones that will most help them in develop mathematical comprehension of the concept being discussed.
- Encourage your parents to use and discuss math vocabulary at home.
- I often include vocabulary as part of my weekly newsletter.
- What about including them on your class website on a math page?
- Mathematics discussions
- Create a risk free environment where students are encouraged to talk about math.
- Number talks, math huddles, etc
- Problem solving lends itself easily to discussions.
- Ask questions which require more math talk. Use why and how questions.
- How do you know?
- Can you solve it another way?
- Can you think of other terms that are related?
- Writing about Math helps students organize their thoughts. It is important for teachers to model, model, model what is expected in their writings.
- journal writing
- vocabulary notebooks
- Math Word Walls - not exactly like your word wall for literacy, because these word walls hold more than just words. Include:
- correct spelling
- graphic representation
I like to group math words by the Common Core Standard.
I also like to play games with the math word wall words.
Ex. Guess the Word I'm Thinking
Give 3 clues that will help narrow down the specific vocabulary word.
By the last clue, their is only 1 possibility.
- Graphic Organizers - provide a structure, makes patterns more visible
- Frayer Diagram
- Venn Diagram
- These Are.../These are Not... Chart
- Concept Maps
- Games that will make vocabulary "stick"
- Vocabulary Charades
- Make My Day - if a students card matches the clue given by the teacher, they step forward
- I Have, Who Has
- Math Hunts - find items from home or class that represent the vocabulary term
- Talk a Mile a Minute - "it" tries to get their teammates to guess all the words on their list by describing them quickly without using specific words or rhyming words
- Use Children's Literature as an activating strategy and then again to study the vocabulary more in depth.