Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Communicating Math Effectively

I think we most math educators would agree that students need to communicate math more effectively. In order to achieve this goal, students need to understand the terminology related to the math concepts being taught. IMO, it is very difficult to learn math concepts without the vocabulary and terminology defined for them as they go through a concept. I have several resources to help with this endeavor.

My new crossword and word search puzzles are a great resource for building and honing students' math vocabulary skills. These new puzzles do NOT require any Java applets. All resources are interactive, engaging, and include a timer. Solutions are also provided.

Our online glossary has over 500 terms, each each with a related link to more information. Students can look up terms they are unfamiliar with for homework, or any time.

Of course, my in-depth lessons have always included definitions, In 1998, I was a pioneer of definition windows for math terminology as part of the instruction provided. The idea was to remove peer pressure from the classroom. Students are often afraid to ask questions, and the time to do so is not always available in a 40-minute class period. The unique design of my lessons gives students the option of viewing terms that may be unfamiliar to them. If a student is already familiar with a term, then the definition does not have to be viewed. This, and other elements of self-paced instruction I have designed, has helped students immensely over the years.

One nice way to tie all of this together is use Cooperative Learning Techniques. Instead of a teacher-directed lesson, students can discuss the problem they are working on. Perhaps they can even define unknown terminology for each other. For example, "What the heck is a trinomial, anyway?"