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A Focus on the Intentional Teaching of Mathematics Vocabulary - Charmaine Xinis (Literacy / Numeracy Coach)

26/08/2013
As an element of the school priority in Numeracy, some of our teachers have been very successfully implementing an exciting program that involves the intentional pre-teaching of the maths vocabulary.
The intentional teaching of mathematics vocabulary differs from the incidental teaching of vocabulary, as teachers are deliberately pre-teaching selected maths words, connecting each word with its well-researched definition, a corresponding mathematical diagram and, in many cases, the matching symbolic representation.
Teachers initially select and prioritise which words to teach, based on several criteria.  Words are selected based on the word’s conceptual importance in within the current mathematics unit of study.   Students are pre-tested so that we can gain an understanding of what they already know and subsequently develop lessons that will resolve any previous misconceptions.  To promote student understanding and knowledge, teachers are very skilfully utilizing a wide range of proven classroom strategies in their teaching and learning cycle, such as flash cards, word walls, warm-ups and games.
The post-test results so far have been very encouraging indeed and have provided us with information about what really works in our maths classroom. The number of teachers joining the program will be increasing next term, with a vision to roll out the program to all of our staff next year.
Some examples of our work in teaching mathematics vocabulary:
Symmetrical - A shape has symmetry or is symmetrical when one half of a shape can fit exactly over the other half. Shapes are called symmetrical if they have one or more lines (axes) of symmetry.                   
                
Regular shape            Irregular shape is
is symmetrical.           not symmetrical.
One half fits               Does not fit
exactly over               exactly over
the other.                   each half.