Wednesday, September 16, 2009
A Key to Unlocking Math Confusion...All of Those Words
After teaching for 13 years I think I have finally found one of the main confusing culprits for students in mathematics...all of that vocabulary. Factors, products, addends, sums, minuends, subtrahends, quotient, dividend, divisor, greater than, less than, greatest common factor, least common multiple, acute, obtuse, supplementary, etc etc etc...
Teaching sixth grade it has finally hit me. They need to know these words . They need to hear them, use them, become comfortable with them. They need to be part of every lesson. Every day they need to hear the old ones, the new ones, and even some crazy ones. They need to be challenged to find out what perfect, deficient, and abundant numbers are. Prime numbers, composite, even and odd need to be ingrained in their brains.
The thing is, I needed to learn all of these terms. The school of education didn't cover them. New teacher training skipped this section. Even if I was told, I'm sure there were more pressing matters. It took some independent reading and classroom discovery to realize this fact. I didn't know. In reading we have learned to front load vocabulary. Teaching math I always felt I needed to jump in and teach. Vocabulary was an afterthought. I knew students were getting confused with Least Common Multiples and Greatest Common Factors, but I needed to push on!
Now we stop and take the time. We stop and study these words. They are part of our daily routine.
I need to go study now. Tomorrow: Factors in multiplication and how they are visually represented along with composing and decomposing higher value units.