Math PK-2

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

Explicit Instruction: Math Vocabulary


Math vocabulary is critical for helping learners understand math concepts, procedures, and word problems. In combination with other problem-solving and metacognitive strategies, teaching learners the words that indicate quantities and types of Operations is critical to their understanding of the underlying concepts of math language.

Apply It In Your Learning Environment

  • Use consistent and accurate math language at all levels of learning.
  • Post math vocabulary around the room and refer to it when learners are writing.
  • Model the use of math vocabulary when thinking aloud and as an example of learners explaining their thinking.
  • Focus on the context and meaning of word problems, and use caution when having learners rely on key words as signals for Operations.
  • Incorporate the language of math in all curricular areas.
  • Daily math word problems can support increased use and understanding of math vocabulary.
  • Math journals can support writing in math using accurate math vocabulary.
  • Graphic organizers can be used to help learners illustrate the concept, create examples and non-examples, and define and label key math vocabulary.
  • In digital learning environments, encourage learners to use the language of math in conversations, discussions, and when explaining their thinking.
  • During online learning, annotations can be used to label solution strategies with math vocabulary.

Apply It To Product Development

  • Provide tools for highlighting, marking out, and circling words and phrases in word problems.
  • Annotations can allow learners to label aspects of their solutions to support explaining their thinking.

Use It in the Classroom

  • Sentence frames could be provided to support second language learners.
  • Design It into Your Product

  • Text-to-speech functionality in the control of the learners can support their vocabulary development as they listen to the language of math and build learner agency.
  • Factors Supported by this Strategy