Helping Students Understand Problems Using Precise Math Language

In math, students must build a shared understanding of mathematical terms to successfully share and refine their ideas

For many students, mathematics word problems are just a jumble of words and numbers. A problem-solving process can help students make sense of problems. They can do this by reading the problem more than once, annotating words and numbers, visualizing the situation, converting visualizations into diagrams or mathematical expressions, and assessing the reasonableness of their solutions. All students need to apply problem solving to more and more complex situations as they move forward in their mathematical learning.

In math, students must build a shared understanding of mathematical terms to successfully share and refine their ideas. This can be challenging, because students must learn new words and symbols that are unique to math, as well as precise new meanings for words they are already familiar with. All students can benefit from differentiated instruction when learning terms and symbols. Struggling students may need more support and practice to gain confidence in their use of language.

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