Tuesday, October 4, 2022
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How We Pumped Up Our Understanding of Math Vocabulary


By Kathleen Palmieri

A rigorous math curriculum emphasizes conceptual understanding, procedural ability and fluency utilizing a number of operations. However can we actually pose purposeful questions and facilitate significant mathematical discourse if college students are uncertain of the mathematics phrases?

As the mathematics curriculum advances, so does the terminology that’s utilized in every unit. Whereas logic and ability are two essential parts in advancing math information, college students additionally should be immersed in the language of math.

Prior to now I’ve puzzled how properly college students had been understanding among the complicated math phrases which might be utilized in our math textbooks. Nonetheless, it was at first of this new college yr that I actually discovered college students struggling to understand the that means of our math vocabulary.

So I made a decision to do some motion analysis and compose a listing of math phrases that college students could be anticipated to know as we started to discover this yr’s curriculum.



What my analysis revealed

I pulled 10 phrases ranging in complexity from our math textbook to create a “present what you understand” sort of exercise. The phrases I selected had been:

  • exponent
  • base
  • appropriate numbers
  • compensation
  • equal
  • expanded type
  • quantity identify
  • normal type
  • estimate, and
  • Associative Property of Addition

Trying again on how college students carried out with a selected phrase downside on the primary take a look at, I used to be curious to see if there was a correlation between not figuring out math terminology and success in fixing the issue.

What I discovered was that 40% of the scholars had a passable understanding of many of the phrases and will write a primary definition, 30% may use numbers to indicate their understanding, 20% may outline seven of the much less complicated phrases, and 10% actually struggled to indicate understanding of most phrases.

What I found in my college students’ responses was that studying math terminology is greater than learning a listing of phrases. It’s rather more of an structure of studying the place ideas should be explored and a pathway of understanding must be blazed earlier than a mathematical time period could be hooked up to determine true that means. (Click on to increase)

Involving college students to develop methods

After studying via my college students’ responses, the subsequent step was to have a category assembly, talk about the mathematics phrases, and have college students brainstorm methods to assist “pump up” our understanding of math vocabulary. Here’s what we determined to do as a category:

►Pupil math glossary: Previous to starting a brand new subject, as a category we are going to take a “Matter stroll” and pull out any math phrases that stand out as essential to know. This shall be greater than a vocabulary checklist as college students could have an energetic position in deciding what’s going to go into their glossary in addition to discovering, discussing, and recording definitions with examples.

►Graphic Organizers: In language arts college students are aware of utilizing graphic organizers that spotlight a vocabulary phrase within the center. Across the phrase are sentences and different associated phrases. Utilizing this sort of organizer, the scholars will do the identical with the mathematics phrases.



►Math Phrase of the Day/Week: Relying on the size of a selected idea, as a category we got here up with having a math phrase to give attention to for a day or for every week. So as to add a enjoyable twist, college students will tally what number of occasions the phrase is used and the way it’s used. Examples embrace in a phrase downside, throughout a category dialogue, in a small group math exercise, and so on.

►Pupil-created vocabulary posters: Including artwork to math vocabulary appears to have actually engaged my college students. Bubble letters, examples of issues and definitions with graphics are actually enjoyable “math” actions. College students current and clarify their time period after which proudly show their poster within the classroom.

►Math phrase wall: This was an amazing hit concept throughout our dialogue. College students felt phrase partitions helped them bear in mind vocabulary in studying. In order that they determined they wished to create a math phrase wall. College students now take turns writing on giant, colourful Publish-its and affixing the phrases to one of many classroom bulletin boards.

►Carefully analyze phrase issues as a category: Pull out the important thing phrases, create a robust written response, resolve the issue.

►Incorporate math phrase video games: Use the format of Pictionary the place college students can draw clues or “What’s My Time period?” the place college students verbally give clues as others hear.

Higher vocabulary = higher math efficiency!

My most essential takeaway: encouraging using math vocabulary in our every day math classes, discussions, and group work has a large payoff in pupil success. Very similar to studying and utilizing context clues to construct that means as a reader, the language of math is a needed ingredient in gaining conceptual understanding in arithmetic.


Kathleen Palmieri is a Nationwide Board Licensed Trainer and NBCT Skilled Studying facilitator. She is a fifth grade educator in upstate New York who critiques and writes frequently for MiddleWeb. With a ardour for literacy and studying within the classroom, she participates in numerous writing workshops, curriculum writing endeavors, and math displays. As a lifelong learner, she is an avid reader and researcher of instructional practices and methods. Collaborating with colleagues and globally on Twitter and increasing her training adventures at www.kathleenpalmieri.com are ongoing practices.



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