# The DreamBox educator newsletter: supporting elementary math education

### DreamBox Learning partners with educators to support math education. Our newsletters include a broad range of topics: how students learn, the role of technology, classroom tips, and much more

 Expanded Curriculum 2012 Common Core & SRI Study Summer school resources Finding Funding Standardized Testing Administrator Dashboard Preparing for Common Core Home-School Connection Math Vocabulary Common Core Dreambox Math Math Classroom Summer slide K-3 Math Parent attitudes Summer slide Teacher Tools Student performance

Inside this edition

# Teaching math vocabulary

One of the challenges teachers face in the classroom today is how to effectively teach mathematics vocabulary. With the recent emphasis on state-wide assessment, it becomes vital for students to be able to demonstrate their mathematical knowledge and understanding. To do this, they have to be able to read and comprehend the mathematical vocabulary being taught.

We frequently describe mathematics as having its own language, and this language is often mysterious to our students. Many words that we use to describe mathematical ideas are familiar to our students, but their meanings in general usage are often very different from their mathematical meanings such as similar, even, odd, multiply, factor, prime, and power. It’s important to talk about the difference in meanings when common words have special mathematical meanings. For example:

Joseph was scared, even his knees were shaking.
10 is an even number.

Our football team will face their opponent on Saturday.
How many faces are on a polygon?

### Mathematics as a language

Mathematical language serves the same purpose as all languages; it allows us to communicate. The language of math allows students to comprehend mathematical problems and situations, and talk about their understanding of problems. The key to teaching mathematical language is understanding that students must first acquire knowledge about the ideas that the language describes. Only when they understand the ideas do they have a reason for learning the correct language of mathematics to communicate those ideas.

### Teaching the language of mathematics

Effective strategies for teaching mathematics vocabulary draw on practices that have been found to be helpful for teaching vocabulary as part of students’ literacy instruction. As you plan your next unit of math instruction, determine the relevant vocabulary you want to call out for your students. Always explain the vocabulary by connecting its meaning to the learning experience. Have your students pronounce each word, connecting it back to its meaning. Create a “Math Words” class chart and add new words as they arise during instruction. Reinforcement is important; continue to use the words repeatedly and encourage your students to use the vocabulary in discussions and in their writings.

### Math vocabulary students need to know

Below is a list of words that pertain to the four operations. This list is by no means all-inclusive. We recommend that you check your district curriculum documents for terminology that your students are responsible for knowing. Once you’ve identified those words, you and your students can add these terms to your Math Words chart as students learn them in meaningful problem-solving contexts. Encourage students to use the words from the Math Words chart as they communicate their mathematical thinking, both verbally and in writing.

 Addition: add, addend, combine, plus, sum Subtraction: compare, difference, minuend / subtrahend, minus, subtract, take away Multiplication: array, factor, groups of multiple, multiply, product Division: divide, dividend, divisor, equal groups, factor, quotient Operations: associative property, calculate, commutative property, compose, compute, decompose, distributive property, equal, equation, equivalent, estimate, greater than / less than, identity property, inverse, reasonable, regroup, solve

Finally, keep in mind that language acquisition takes time and occurs from connecting words to experiences.

## Did you know?

### DreamBox Learning wins Tech & Learning Award of Excellence

Tech & Learning announced their 28th annual Awards of Excellence winners, which honors products that help educators teach and manage classrooms with technology. “Now that the use of technology in schools is no longer a novelty but a reality, it’s no longer about the promise of what a product can do; it’s about the proof, says Kevin Hogan, Editorial Director for NewBay Media’s Tech & Learning Group.”

DreamBox Learning K-3 Math has won the Tech & Learning Award of Excellence for the second year in a row! We are honored to have been included as a winner — thank you to the more than 30 educators who reviewed our product and found our product among the best of the best. Read more about the 28th Annual Awards of Excellence by Tech & Learning Magazine. View our awards and honors