Comprehension Strategies in Math

Math Should Really Just Make Sense (part 2)

Thinking Stems

Have you ever used "thinking stems" to support your students as they learn to communicate about a comprehension strategy they are using in reading? You can also incorporate thinking stems into your mathematics instruction as you think aloud and model a particular problem solving strategy.

Give it a try! As you introduce/read a problem, try asking the following questions: "Do I see pictures in my mind?" (Visualizing) "What do I know for sure? What am I trying to find out? Are there any special rules or conditions that I need to be aware of?" (Asking Questions) "What does this situation remind me of?" (Math-to-self Connection) "Is this like anything I've seen in Social Studies, Science, or the Arts? Is it related to anything I've seen anywhere?" (Math-to-world connection) "What is the main idea from math that is happening here? Where have I seen this before? Is this like some other math ideas?" (Math-to-math connections) "What inferences have I made? After looking back at my K-W-C graphic organizer, what notes are facts and which are inferences? Are my inferences accurate?" (Inferring) "Am I able to infer any patterns, and can I make any predictions based on the inferred patterns?" (Inferring/predicting)

Graphic organizer used to promote asking questions

(Taken from "Comprehending Math" by Arthur Hyde)


Have you ever experienced a true "Aha!" moment when learning something new? According to Arthur Hyde, in order to fully understand a concept, you might have to completely change your initial way of thinking about something. In reading, Debbie Miller models this with the following thinking stems: "I'm thinking...At first I thought _____, but now I'm thinking....Oh! This is way different than I thought!" When students synthesize in math, they do not rely on one fact to arrive at an answer. They look at all of the information, as a whole, to derive their answers.

Journal Writing For Reflection and Synthesizing Ideas

Journal writing can be an excellent opportunity for students to reflect on their understanding of a particular concept. As a teacher, their responses give you insight into each child's level of understanding. Responding to student journals with questions can help probe for deeper understanding or guide students in th right direction if misconceptions exist.