Read Like a Mathematician

Strategies for Incorporating Literacy into Math Instruction

Goal of Teaching Mathematics

" give an individual the capacity to identify and understand the role that mathematics plays in the world, to make well-founded judgments and to use and engage with mathematics in ways that meet the needs of that individual's life as a constructive, concerned, and reflective citizen."

In Other Words....

Students should be able to put mathematics to a functional use. They should have the "ability to analyze, reason, and communicate ideas effectively as they pose, formulate, solve, and interpret solutions to mathematics problems in a variety of situations or contexts ( OECD 2006.)

~Many of the skills needed to be a successful Mathematician are the same skills needed to ready successfully. Therefore, it is only reasonable the two should be taught in conjunction.

Let's Share... 5 Minutes

Click on the link to the Answer Garden below and share ways you are already integrating literacy into your math classroom.

How Are Reading and Math Similar? 5 Minutes

The characteristics of Good Readers and Good Mathematicians
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Carousel Brainstorming Activity : 10 Minutes

With the members of your table, take a few minutes and brainstorm examples for each of the characteristics of a good mathematician. For example, what does it look like in the classroom when students, Call upon prior knowledge to understand concepts and solve problems? What would be an example of a way to teach this or an activity the students may do to demonstrate these qualities?

Activity: Carousel Brainstorming

There's 1 Key to Successful Readers and Mathematicians: Schema

Readers who are familiar with the general subject of the text they are reading are more likely to be able to to construct meaning from that text. Familiarity with the content provides a foundation for both understanding and building new knowledge. Hence, children with little background knowledge to build upon often struggle with comprehension. Even those who have excellent decoding skills and read fluently, meaning eludes them. Consequently, those students become frustrated more frequently. What joy is there is trying to read something that is incomprehensible?

Likewise, when students are introduced to new mathematical concepts, the same premise holds true. Students who have some foundation to build upon can make connections and create an understanding of the concepts more readily than students who lack background knowledge or schema to new information.

Teachers can help students in this area by providing them more opportunities to build schema to serve as a foundation to build new concepts as well as integrating these 7 Comprehension Strategies into their daily lessons.

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The Importance of Teaching Vocabulary in Math: 10 Minutes

Vocabulary development is a complex process that evolves incrementally-dependent on our exposure to new words and our opportunities to communicate with others. From the time we are born, we are acquiring vocabulary--and for some students their exposure to words is vastly different than others.

However, the vocabulary knowledge of students when they begin school varies dramatically from student to student and this disparity is a cause for concern since it has a significant impact on the academic success of students in all subject areas.

Basic reading comprehension depends of the reader's ability to decode the words in the text as well as have an understanding of the meaning of the words and strategies for determining the meaning of the unknown words and strategies for determining the meaning of the unknown words.

In content areas like mathematics, the task becomes especially difficult for the following reasons:

  1. Some of the words in math have different meanings than in everyday situations.
  2. For example, students who haven't had exposure to words feet and yard in the mathematical sense will struggle with multiple meanings slowing them down when processing math.
  3. When students are in the early stages of learning mathematical language, they will go through a double decoding process---once to decode the words as they are use to using them and then a second time to translate them into mathematical context.

Swap Meet/ Manage by Time: 10 Minutes

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Strategies for Teaching Math Vocabulary: The Frayer Model ---10 Minutes

In the Frayer Model, Students are asked to provide a Definition of the word, Facts or Characteristics of the word, Examples, and Nonexamples. This graphic organizer will lead students to a deeper understanding of a word and its relationship to their own lives.

**Take 10 Minutes to explore elements of the Frayer Model and discuss with your table mates how you could incorporate this element of vocabulary instruction into your lessons.**

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Digital Resources for Incorporating Literacy: 20 Minutes to Explore


Discovery Ed Math Techbook

What other strategies can I use to enhance reading comprehension in my class?

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Exit Ticket

April Davala

Instructional Coach

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