April 21, 2016

Math is More Than a Numbers Game

Math is more than a numbers game! Read this post to discover the key to math vocabulary instruction and to sign up for a free webinar with Laura Candler!
Next Live Math Webinar - Sept. 5th
Click here to sign up!

Have you ever considered the importance of vocabulary instruction in math? If you think about it, success in math often hinges more on the ability to read and understand the language of mathematics than on the ability to perform mathematics computation. In other words ...

Math is more than a numbers game. 

Years ago, standardized tests consisted of page after page of computation, but today's math tests require students to read challenging word problems and understand precise mathematical terminology in order find  the solution. For example, upper elementary students who don't know the difference between factor and multiple or range and median are going to struggle to perform well on tests. Geometry is another area where accurate knowledge of the key vocabulary is closely tied to understanding of the essential concepts.

It's pretty clear that mastering the language of math is just as important as mastering math facts or being able to solve complex computational problems.

So what's the best way to teach math vocabulary? I can assure you that having kids is memorize words and definitions is NOT the way to go! Besides being extremely boring, rote memorization does not provide students with the opportunity to explore the complex nuances of meaning inherent in math terminology.

The good news is that the most powerful strategies for helping kids learn the language of math are also the most motivating and fun! Why? Because those methods encourage kids to TALK about math concepts and practice using the vocabulary correctly as they take part in hands-on activities and math strategy games.

Powerful Strategies for Building Math Vocabulary Webinar - Register Now! 
Over the years, I've developed a collection of activities and games that are highly effective for building math vocabulary, and they're super fun for kids, too. I enjoy sharing those strategies in a webinar for teachers called Powerful Strategies for Building Math Vocabulary. In the webinar I also share about 4 important phases of math vocabulary instruction and describe strategies for targeting each phase. I'm offering that webinar on September 5th; click here to register for that session now. If you like a professional development certificate for the webinar, it's available when you purchase this webinar from my TpT store.

Recharge and Write Problem Solving Activity
Recharge and Write is one of the strategies I shared during the webinar, and it's a perfect example of a cooperative learning activity that encourages math talk. In a nutshell, each team needs a "recharger" and one math problem worksheet per person. Students put their pencils into the recharger when discussing each problem, and then take them out to write each answer without talking. Recharge & Write is a bit difficult to explain without visuals, so I recorded a short video to explain how it works.

How to Power Up Any Activity to Boost Vocabulary Development My favorite part of the webinar was diving into HOW to "power up" any activity to boost its effectiveness. I started by sharing how I modified the basic "Guess My Number" game to make it a powerful tool for building math vocabulary. Mystery Number Detectives takes only a few minutes a day to play and requires very few materials, but while students are playing the game, they're practicing and reinforcing important math vocabulary and concepts. The best part is that they'll be having so much fun, they won't even know they're learning! In fact, my students loved this game so much that they begged to play it and didn't want to stop for recess!

Free Webinars for Teachers
All of my webinars for teachers are free if you register in advance and attend the LIVE session. If you'd like to attend my next free live webinar, visit my Webinars Page on Teaching Resources to see what's planned. I hope to connect with you in the next webinar!

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