Monday, June 17, 2013

Building Mathematical Comprehension- Chapter 2

I'm back for a "hit the high points" review of chapter 2 in Laney Sammons' book, Building Mathematical Comprehension: Recognizing and Understanding Mathematical Vocabulary. If you missed Chapter 1 you can read about that here

Thanks to Thinking of Teaching, Still Teaching After All These Years, and My Second Grade Journal for hosting this week. 

I'll continue putting my personal thoughts and reflections in italics

Chapter 2
This chapter is all about mathematical vocabulary. This was especially exciting to read about after the last day of my Thinking Maps training because we had a whole activity based on tiered vocabulary. Chris Yeager, one of the authors of the Thinking Maps training manual, has a quick post about the CCSS shift from Tier 3 to Tier 2 words. You can check that out here

The big takeaway for this chapter: The teaching of tier 2 and 3 words must be explicit. (46) This teaching is critical to solid mathematical comprehension. This of course applies to other content areas as well, not just math. 

Takeaway 2: There was a lot of push towards allowing students to develop definitions in their own words rather than dictionary definitions or teacher given definitions (47).

This made me think of two things: the importance of math journals where students can reflect on their learning and it also caused me to rethink they way I currently do vocabulary instruction. I usually give definitions to students rather than letting them construct their own. Thinking maps are a great way for me to change this in class.

Takeaway 3: Let vocabulary development follow concept development (55).  In other words, it's okay to teach vocabulary AFTER the students understand the concept of what you're trying to teach. 

This was a completely different approach than I had ever thought of. It makes sense though because I recall throwing out tier 3 vocabulary with a little explanation at the beginning of a lesson and it's like deers in the headlights. I think this is a great principle to follow for vocabulary instruction. 

Takeaway 4: The textbook should not be the sole source of vocabulary words for instruction (59).

In my class I usually focus on the few vocabulary words that the textbook highlights and don't really consider what other words my students might need clarified. This is especially important when it comes to problem solving. It's where those tier 2 words really make a difference. 

Later in the chapter Laney gives a ton of ideas for ways to have students engaged in discourse using mathematical vocabulary, from graphic organizers to games to word walls and vocabulary notebooks.  

Again, coming off of this Thinking Maps training, it was neat to see how I was able to take almost every graphic organizer and translate it into a Thinking Map. 

For example:

Frayer Diagram (71)- segmented Circle Map
Venn Diagram (72)- Double Bubble Map
Venn Diagram with Rings (73)- Brace Map
These are/These are not chart (74)- Tree Map
Concept Map (76)- Circle Map (or Tree Map)

I definitely have Thinking Maps on the brain!

Now go #getyourmathon 


  1. Like you, I really felt kind of validated to read that Sammons recommends introducing vocabulary AFTER the concept. It just makes so much sense! Like you, I typically introduce the vocabulary then go on with the lesson. Thinking about it with this new lens...I'm betting most of my kiddos don't even really remember the vocab after the lesson!
    New plans on math vocab!

    Primary Inspired

  2. I am really hoping to see more people starting to post lists of vocabulary words after participating in this book study. That way we all could cross-reference each other's lists based on our own curriculums and have the best lists possible!