As maths teachers, we know that it is important for students to explicitly learn new maths vocabulary. This allows them to develop a strong understanding of the concepts they are learning and also helps them use maths terminology correctly. In this blog post, we will discuss three easy ways you can introduce new maths vocabulary into your classroom. We will also provide some tips on how to make the most of these activities!
Do like the idea of having Maths vocabulary words on display all year round for quick and easy reference for your students? Click to download a FREE sample of my Maths Alphabet Posters.
What does that mean again?
You are reading through the state standards and you come across a maths term – dang it, what does that mean again!! So you bring up Google to type in “what does …. mean? Am I right? As students, then teachers in training and eventually teachers, we have been bombarded by so much information, new terms and buzz words that we can be excused from not remembering everything. My 7 year old is constantly telling me, “But you are a teacher, you are meant to know everything”! And it’s true, when that topic is at the forefront of our brain and we are practising using it everyday, we are more readily able to remember and absorb the information about that topic.
Just like we need reminding of maths terms, our students do also. This is why when we are introducing a new topic in Maths to our students, we need to introduce them to all the vocabulary they are going to need and practise using this terminology so it becomes everyday language for them.
- Brainstorm what students already know and build on this understanding
Before you start introducing new maths vocabulary words, it is important to find out what your students already know. This will give you a starting point for the topic and help you gauge their understanding and how much explaining of those basic terms you will need to do. You could do this by asking them to brainstorm all of the maths words they know or discussing it as a class. Your Learning Intention for the day could be to match maths terms to their definition. At the start of my unit on Fractions and Decimals, I did a brainstorm with students and was blown away by what they already knew. We were then able to discuss and add a few more terms to our posters and they were visible and relevant to student’s learning.
Initially, ensure all words are student friendly. This means using words that are not too difficult and that your students will be able to understand. Then explicitly teach new maths terms to students with concrete examples of how you use that term. This means taking the time to explain what the words mean and how they can be used in a sentence and apply to everyday life where appropriate.
- Create Maths Word Wall
Another way to introduce maths vocabulary is by creating a maths word wall in your classroom. This is a great way to visually display the words and their definitions for your students. You can also use the word wall as a reference tool throughout the year. Using small alphabet cards, maths terms can be added to the word wall throughout the year.
Download my FREE Sloth themed word wall labels.
Create a flap with the word on top and the definitions underneath to save yourself time.
Creating a space in your room to display maths terms aligned with your current topic is also a great option. Don’t just put the posters on display and forget about then – talk about them with your students before you put them up, reinforce and and constantly talk about the new terms through the lesson and use them in the correct context.
Knowing that so many classrooms that are space poor, posters, like my Maths topic posters, can also be displayed on a smart tv and referred to throughout the lesson.
- Have Maths Alphabet Posters on display
My third way to introduce students to new maths vocabulary is by having maths alphabet posters on display in your classroom. This is a great way to visually display the words and their definitions for your students, and best of all, you can also use the posters as a reference tool throughout the year.
Math Posters are the perfect Alphabet Posters for your older learners! And they will look amazing on display in your classroom.
After much research, I created these posters (cute, colourful, informative) that includes 46 of the most common Maths terms used in a mid to upper elementary classroom. (Some alphabet letters have a number of different terms, so choose your favourite and display that poster).
As state testing approached, I found that students knew how to solve the problem or the answer, but the terms that we had used in the classroom were not always the same as the ones used in the test papers. So I thought if I was constantly exposing my students to many words that mean the same thing (any of the operations come to mind) then they would always know what the question was asking. I discuss this in further detail in my blogpost The Secrets to Preparing your Class for Naplan Testing.
These are just a few ideas on how you can introduce new maths vocabulary into your classroom. By using these activities, you can make sure that your students are engaged and excited about learning maths while also ensuring they know the terms they need to to be successful. What are some other ways you like to introduce new maths vocabulary? Let us know in the comments below!