Math PK-2

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Math PK-2 > Strategies > Direct Instruction: Math Vocabulary

Direct Instruction: Math Vocabulary


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 and metacognitive strategies, teaching students the words that indicate quantities and types of Operations is critical to students understanding the underlying concepts of math language, as often this vocabulary is not familiar to early math learners.

Use It in the Classroom

  • Since word problems involve comprehending and constructing a problem model, teachers can model how to highlight or circle mathematical words that prompt addition or subtraction. While still focusing on conceptual understanding, they can also brainstorm with their students all of the potential words that tell them to add or subtract. These can be displayed as class word walls, supporting Working Memory and developing Language Skills.
  • 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.
  • Factors Supported by this Strategy