The Six Steps of Vocabulary Development: Math Terms

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Students need math notebooks & a pencil. If you have a Smartboard, or an LCD projector, you can show students how to create wordles. See "Presentation" and "Links" below for the procedure for creating a Wordle.


The student needs only to take a pretest and a post-test on ten math vocabulary terms: (or any ten vocabulary words you choose). Results of the pre-test determine what words to practice. The teacher needs to know the six steps of vocabulary development. Step 1: Present a description, explanation or example of a new word. Step 2: Present students with a graphic organizer representation of the new term or phrase. Step 3: Ask students to generate their own explanation or description and to draw the word or phrase. Step 4: Ask students to create their own graphic or nonlinguistic representations and engage in strategies to deepen their understanding of the word or phrase. Step 5: Students review and discuss the accuracy of their explanation s and representations with each other. Places they can review eachother's work: notebook entries, graphic organizers, and art work. Step 6: Engage students in vocabulary games they create for themselves.


1. I gave students a pretest on fifteen math words or phrases kids often do not know: number sentence, product, prime number, range, numerator, area, sum, quotient, median, mean, symmetry, difference, estimate, mode, denomintor, perimeter.

2. Out of 31 students, three students scored quite low. Others I allowed to practice the words together to learn what the terms they had missed, and I kept three for a vocabulary lesson.

3. First, I isolated five words each of the students had missed: product, quotient, mean, mode, and range. It is recommended that you don't have more than five vocabulary words in a single lesson. I wrote these words in red on cards. I wrote the definitions in black on separate cards for matching, later.

4. Step one: I demonstrated each word. Product, using the multiplication board; quotient, using a simple problem (6 divided by 2=3) with the quotient highlighted in red; mean, mode, and range I demonstrated with cube towers: 2 cubes, 3 cubes, 6 cubes, 7 cubes, 7 cubes. Mean was easy: I evened out the towers. The mean is 5. "Mean is the average number in a data set." Lay out the numbers 2,3,6,7,7 in front of the corresponding cube towers. "Range is the difference between highest and lowest." I subtracted 2 from 7 to get the range of 5. Mode is the most frequent number in a data set, therefore 7. Three period lesson with words and definitions.

Control Of Error

Points Of Interest