Writing in mathematics involves more than just putting word to paper. Words need to be carefully chosen to communicate ideas and concepts clearly. Writing involves all of the language of mathematics. Reading, vocabulary, notations and symbols, diagrams, charts, graphs, and metacognition all serve a role as students are engaged in writing in mathematics. Many and varied opportunities need to be provided for students to engage in original thought writing. And remember, just because a student can say something in words, it in no way shows that they can write those same thoughts. Those are two different skill sets. Writing also provides opportunities for the verbal learner to excel as well as the creative learner.
Vocabulary is one of the foundations for developing understanding for any subject area and mathematics is no exception. For many students words used in mathematics may not be familiar in context. Students need many opportunities to use vocabulary in their daily work. Providing additional opportunities to review vocabulary in a learning station, center, or small group will help support students who are challenged by the language of mathematics.
These five vocabulary ideas can be first used in the classroom in a large group or small group setting before rotating out to an independent/pair learning center. Specific mathematical topics are included but the activities can be adapted for any topic, or discipline for that matter. Facilitation notes are provided for each station. The ideas presented are but a start for the many ways in which these activities can be adapted. These are licensed for one classroom use only.
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