Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Talking Math Communication

This Blog post is in direct response to Matt Christiansen's posting "Communication in the Math classroom" and the comment posted by selias22. I agree with selias22. "Dumbing it down" is a terrible idea. One of my greatest challenges with struggling 8th graders is getting them to think beyond the operations represented by symbols on their calculators. This will never change if I don't continuously model the use of math vocabulary. I often interupt my own discourse to check student comprehension of the math vocabulary I'm using. Once I detect that some students are struggling with a term, I revisit the term multiple times throughout the rest of the unit until comprehension is achieved.

Its critical that we realize our students struggle with vocabulary. They certainly won't learn concepts and applications if they can't comprehend the basic math jargon used to teach the concepts. Matt also makes a wonderful point about exercising patience regarding student writing in Math. Writing is a wonderful way to strengthen students' vocbulary and comprehension. Writing is a difficult skill for students and becomes doubly so when they attempt to articulate math concepts that they only understand on the most rudimentary level.

Reading Matt's post has reignited my thinking about strengthening students' math dialogue. I will definitely review my upcoming lesson plans to make sure that I'm applying math communication as a critical strategy in improving student achievement.

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