Math 3-6

Direct Instruction: Math Language


Knowing the language of math is critical because students must use this language to understand math concepts and determine calculations needed. In combination with other problem-solving, comprehension, and metacognitive strategies, teaching students the words that indicate number representations and types of Operations is critical to students understanding the underlying concepts of math language.

Use It in the Classroom

Starting on 0:20, watch how this third grade teacher helps identify keywords with her students to solve a word problem. By unpacking these keywords, students are able to access key information to the math problem and, in doing so, build their vocabulary skills.

  • Since word problems involve constructing a problem model, teachers can model how to highlight or circle mathematical words that prompt multiplication or division. While still focusing on conceptual understanding, they can also brainstorm with students potential words indicating to multiply or divide, and these can be displayed as class word walls or graphic organizers, supporting Working Memory and developing Math Communication.
  • Design It into Your Product

    Videos are chosen as examples of strategies in action. These choices are not endorsements of the products or evidence of use of research to develop the feature.

    Learn how Math Shake allows learners to practice identifying key words to convert a word problem into an equation. This app also provides additional support by emphasizing important words when learners are stuck.

  • To support learners in identifying important information from word problems, products can provide screengrab examples where learners can watch as key words are coded and irrelevant information is crossed out. Products then can provide digital tools learners can use to highlight and cross out on their own for practice.