Math is more than numbers, but grasping the vocabulary necessary to master math is sometimes difficult for students. And, unfortunately, using math vocabulary consistently can be an overlooked skill. That’s why I’m sharing five ways to teach math vocabulary terms all year long, so your students have ample opportunity to make connections to terms they need to communicate math effectively.
1. Circle Back to Math Vocabulary
Make a habit for students to begin math assignments by circling keywords in every word problem that signals operation, and have them draw the symbol above it. This is a quick practice you can implement in your classroom with zero prep, and it allows you to get a look at what students understand and what they need more help with identifying by glancing at their word problems when you grade them.
2. Restate/Rephrase and Model
This also requires zero prep on your part, just a conscious effort to model using math vocabulary as you go through your lessons. Encourage students to do the same. When a student says a term that is incorrect, don’t make a big to-do about correcting them. Casually restate with the correct term in place. Exposure and practice is the key to success.
3. Hands-On Math Vocabulary Sorting
Have this handy review activity on hand any time you think your class needs a refresher, or if you have specific students who need math vocabulary practice. This word sort includes 35 keywords for math operations. You can use these in a variety of ways: an interactive whiteboard sort with the class, individual review, create posters and anchor charts or put it together in the form of a game.
4. Word Walls and Word Banks
Create meaningful images to accompany the vocabulary terms and create a display for your students. Students can refer to the word wall as a daily reminder of the vocabulary that they have learned. Alternatively, you might consider making personalized word banks for each of the students. These can be on keyrings in their desks or a personalized list they can open if you have students still working digitally.
5. Math Journals (or Problem Solving Notebooks)
Instead of having students complete worksheets that they turn in and stuff in a take-home folder when graded, have students work from a math journal. Students record their math problems in the notebook and can then work through the “thinking skills” that go with it. You can have students practice writing explanations, have them glue in word problems or diagrams, or have students use writing prompts to reflect on their work and practice using their vocabulary.
Using the proper vocabulary is an essential skill for students in all areas, even math! What activities or suggestions do you have to help students solidify those math terms? Let me know if you try any from this list. You can grab the resource in my TPT store! Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook and Instagram for more tips and topics to help your classroom.
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