School-Based Intervention Idea from


Math Vocabulary: Preteach, Model, and Use Standard Math Terms  (Chard, D., n.d.)

Three strategies can help students to learn essential math vocabulary: preteaching key vocabulary items, modeling those vocabulary words, and using only universally accepted math terms in instruction.

(1) Preteach key math vocabulary. Math vocabulary provides students with the language tools to grasp abstract mathematical concepts and to explain their own reasoning. Therefore, do not wait to teach that vocabulary only at ‘point of use’. Instead, preview relevant math vocabulary as a regular a part of the ‘background’ information that students receive in preparation to learn new math concepts or operations. (2) Model the relevant vocabulary when new concepts are taught. Strengthen students’ grasp of new vocabulary by reviewing a number of math problems with the class, each time consistently and explicitly modeling the use of appropriate vocabulary to describe the concepts being taught. Then have students engage in cooperative learning or individual practice activities in which they too must successfully use the new vocabulary—while the teacher provides targeted support to students as needed. (3) Ensure that students learn standard, widely accepted labels for common math terms and operations and that they use them consistently to describe their math problem-solving efforts.


Chard, D. (n.d..) Vocabulary strategies for the mathematics classroom. Retrieved November 23, 2007, from

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