23 June 2014

Maths Vocabulary

I found Cav's blog post 'Vocabulary and maths are not mutually exclusive' really interesting and it got me thinking about activities and teaching techniques related to maths vocabulary.

A teaching tool that can be used regularly throughout the year is a vocabulary knowledge survey. When you start teaching a topic, create a list of the new words that will be used and ask students to complete a chart showing their understanding of those words.  Repeat the activity later to see the improvement in understanding - I've not tried this myself yet but I think it would generate some useful questions as well as boosting pupil confidence.

In my post on Area and Volume I suggested these maths vocabulary exercises which make for nice 'end of term' lessons.  Here's an example of an activity from this pack:

Here's some more links that you might find useful:

I was recently talking to a highly intelligent and articulate Year 13 pupil who said that she hated it when her teacher asked her to 'speak maths'. I asked her to elaborate. She said that when questioning the class, the teacher expected answers that used appropriate maths vocabulary - and even this pupil (who'll be off to Oxbridge in September) found this daunting.  We need to address this issue from a young age.  One tip is to always require pupils to answer questions in full sentences instead of just numbers or words - from primary school onwards. A very simple example - in response to the question 'what do we call a polygon with 8 sides?', don't accept the answer 'octagon' - ask for a full sentence such as 'An 8-sided polygon is called an octagon' to get pupils used to 'speaking maths' from an early age (source).


Edit: 11/11/15

Since writing this post last year I've seen lots of great resources for developing vocabulary. I particularly like the Literacy Assessments featured in Gems 43. I also found the activity below worked well with my Year 7s.

Here's my guide to literacy in maths lessons:

1 comment:

  1. Additional vocabulary ideas from subsequent posts:

    Gems 10: Literacy board

    Gems 6: Calligrams

    Gems 8: Concept wall