ICT Tools for teaching Vocabulary

1. Using Inspiration Software to teach vocabulary http://www.inspiration.com/inspiration

Another video on Inspiration for Math

Inspiration Resources for Math

2. Using WORDLE to teach Vocabulary

3. Using Visual Thesaurus to teach vocabulary:

Word Lists from Commonly Used Textbooks

Barton's Alpha Textbook wordlist for Number - Chapters 1-9

Maths Dictionaries and Related Exercises

Online Junior Maths Dictionary http://www.amathsdictionaryforkids.com/dictionary.html
or http://www.webquest.hawaii.edu/kahihi/mathdictionary/C/circumference.php
Online Senior Maths Dictionary http://www.mathwords.com/ or http://www.shodor.org/interactivate/dictionary/

Other Resources:

Maths Vocabulary Lists: http://www.spellingcity.com/math-vocabulary.html

Reading 1: http://www.cimt.plymouth.ac.uk/journal/brinkmann.pdf
Reading 2: http://www.erusd.k12.ca.us/projectalphaweb/index_files/MP/Learning%20Mathematics%20Vocabulary.pdf

See: Marzano's 6-step process for building vocabulary http://esu3vocab.wikispaces.com/Marzano%27s+6+Steps
See: http://esolonline.tki.org.nz/ESOL-Online/Teacher-needs/Teacher-resource-exchange/ESOL/Years-9-13/websites-and-tools

Wordle: Literacy in Maths 3

Background Reading to the StrategiesSummary of Chapter 2 - Vocabulary("Effective Literacy Strategies in Years 9-13")

1. What the research tells us
Main Ideas:
"Getting beyond the narrow" - Professor John Hattie of The University of Auckland, asks if teachers in their critical role as change agents, are too focused on the short term horizon - national standards of literacy and numeracy - when they should be focused on actively using literacy and numeracy to engage more students in the pursuit of learning http://www.edtalks.org/video/getting-beyond-narrow

2. Knowing about learners' vocabulary needs
Main ideas:
  • Vocabulary knowledge is crucial to language and cognitive development - students who have a wide vocabulary generally show greater proficiency in learning than those with more limited vocabularies.
  • Students usually need direct teaching to acquire the specialised and academic vocabulary in mathematics
  • Students need both receptive vocabulary (words we understand when we hear them although we do not use them) and productive vocabulary (words we can use productively)
  • Students learning English as a new language have an urgent need to acquire more vocabulary.
  • Effective teachers help their students to link new words to their existing knowledge, by giving them opportunities to practise them.

3. Knowing about different categories of vocabulary
Main ideas:
There are 3 types of words.
A. High frequency words - basic words most commonly used which make up over 80% of written text.
B. Specialised academic mathematics vocabulary - new, subject-specific terms for mathematics. Many students know only the everyday meanings of words that may also have different subject-specific meanings in mathematics e.g. sector and segment, volume, range, function.
C. General academic vocabulary - terms used across the curriculum, such as "define", "assess", "method", "survey". General academic words are often used in tests and examinations. Click on link for the list of academic words common across all subjects:
Lists of general academic words

4. What the challenges are
Main Ideas:
Are the students aware of the context-specific meanings of the words they need to use?

5. Knowing what teachers can do
Main Ideas:
For teachers:
  • to establish prior vocabulary learning e.g. simple vocab test using keywords in the topic, monitor students' work to see how they use new vocab,
  • to build new vocabulary e.g. establish a vocab-rich environment such as word walls, word of the week, glossary for topic (limit to 6 or 7 per session), purposeful tasks and opportunities to use new words in aural and written forms as soon as possible after they have been introduced to them. Simply giving a word's definition or putting it into a glossary is not enough. Limit number of new words per session to 6 or 7. Plan opportunities for students to be able to practise their new vocab as soon as possible after learning it.
  • to help students develop strategies for learning new vocabulary.

6. Developing independent learners
Main Ideas:
Questions for the students' learning logs or a wall-chart:
  • What key words do I know already?
  • What related words do I know?
  • What new vocab can I now use confidently to explain my understanding of the subject content?
  • What new understandings have I gained?
  • What are some examples of context that may help me to understand new vocabulary?

7. What can make a difference: the deliberate use of literacy strategies
Main Ideas:
Teachers use strategies to
  • introduce new words and terms to students
  • help students to solve unknown words and terms
  • give students opportunities to use new words and terms

8. Introducing students to new vocabulary
Main Idea:
Activate students' prior knowledge of the subject content that the terms relate to.
Strategy: Word Maps - see above
Purpose: For introducing students to new vocabulary.
Brainstorming words that relate to a single "focus word" chosen by the teacher.
This allows the teacher to find out what relevant words the students already know and to introduce new words. The word map can also clarify relevant subject-specific meaning of a word that has more than one meaning.
1. Choose a focus word for the word map and write that word in a central circle on the board.
2. Decide what the branches of the word map will be and write the branches on the word map. Discuss each branch with the students before beginning the brainstorm.
3. Brainstorm - could be a think-pair-share exercise before the word is contributed to the class discussion.
4. Discuss the words on each of the branches.
5. Are the students making connections with other words that they know? Are they aware that familiar words may have different meanings in other contexts? Are they using new words independently?

Focus Words.jpg
page 34 "Effective Literacy Strategies in Years 9-13"
Word Map Examples:


9. Strategies for drawing on prior knowledge
Main Ideas:
Find out any existing understandings that the students have of each new word or term. Build on these understandings by modelling the use of the following strategies:
  • Link the new word to related words that the student knows
  • Teach the new word in a relevant context, using concrete examples if possible
  • Divide the word into syllables, if appropriate, and discuss prefixes, suffixes etc
  • Encourage the student to say the word aloud.
  • Help students to construct a definition when they understand the word

10. Helping students to solve unknown vocabulary
Main Ideas:
Students need to be taught decoding strategies - look closely at an unknown word, "sound it out", break the word into syllables, look at the prefix, the root word, the suffix.
Use context clues - read on to the end of the sentence or paragraph when they encounter an unknown word (builds up a context).
Meaning of a word may be given explicitly (in brackets after the word), a synonym may be given, a following phrase may describe the actual word.
Strategy: Interactive Cloze Activity - see above for example
The teacher gives the students a text with some words deleted from it and asks them to fill the gaps. In this version of the cloze, it is not the subject-specific words which are deleted, it is the words that contribute to the general meaning or to the structure of the piece that are deleted.
Purpose: Students learn the context clues in a sentence or paragraph to work out the meaning of unknown words and to actively read for meaning.
1. Choose an appropriate text and delete a variety of words that are not subject-specific, making sure that there are clues in the text for each of the missing words.
2. Delete at least one word that signals the order of ideas - such as "because".
3. Give each student a copy of the deleted text and explain to the students what the words could be/the idea of context clues.
4. Students work on their own, filling in the gaps. Have them highlight the actual "clue" in the text.
5. Share their answers with their partner and compare - decide which answers are the best.
6. Discuss as a class.
1. Structural Cloze - connectives that link ideas, such as "however", "because" are left out.
2. Paragraph Cloze - a whole paragraph is omitted as seen above. Students must have read the whole text once first and try to remember as much as possible of what was missing.

Intact paragraph.jpg
p. 38 "Effective Strategies in Literacy - Years 9-13"

A great collection of these for Year 9 and 10 Maths can be found in the NZ book:
**Whitehouse**, **Colin**
Let's talk maths / ColinWhitehouse
Auckland, N.Z. : Longman, 1998

More in:

11. Adopting literacy strategies
Main Ideas:

12. Using context clues
Main Ideas:

13. Clustering
Involves organising sets of key words into different clusters or groups.
Gives students a chance to think about and discuss the meanings of words and the relationships between words.
What the teacher does:
1. Prepare several sets of 20 cards, each showing a key word or term that relates to the relevant subject content.
2. Give small groups of students a set of each of these cards.
3. Describe the activity to the students. First time, model how to create two or three clusters and then “think aloud” about all the clustering decisions before asking the students to work in groups.
What the students do:
1. Students work together to arrange their cards in clusters or groups according to the meanings on the cards. If necessary, they can have a “don’t know” pile.
2. Have them all agree on their clusters and then write on a separate piece of paper, a general heading that describes each cluster.
3. Have each group explain their decisions to the class or another group.
What the teacher looks for:
1. Are they actively engaged in discussing their words and the meanings?
2. Are they using other new words that they have learned?
3. This is effective:
  • Before teaching specific subject content
  • After new words have been introduced
  • At the end of a unit of work

Clustering and Word Wall Examples:

More in:



14. Structured overviews
Main ideas:
Hierarchy of key words or concepts that relate to one main idea. The main idea is given in the heading at the top of the page. Other related ideas are recorded and connected by lines to the main idea and to each other.
The structured overview is like a tree structure with general terms at the top and details at the bottom.
To help students understand key words and ideas that they need for learning subject content. Enables them to identify relationships between these words and ideas.
What the teacher does:
1. Select key words that relate to one main idea and organise them into a structured overview (do not show students)
2. Draw up a blank version of the overview (ie the boxes and arrows, but don’t add any words)
3. Give the students a list of all the words that go into the boxes on the blank overview. Show the students how to put two or three of the words in the correct places on the blank overview, then have them complete the rest.
What the students do:
1. Students work by themselves at first putting words in correct boxes.
2. Then students work in pairs comparing what they and their partner did
What the teacher looks for:
Are students reflecting about their choices
Are they discussing the words with their partners and critically analysing the possibilities?
Students can use structured overviews to organise their writing and research tasks.

Structured Overview Examples:

More on: http://esolonline.tki.org.nz/ESOL-Online/Teacher-needs/Pedagogy/Cross-curricular-strategies/Teaching-approaches-and-strategies/Vocabulary/Structured-overview

15.Strategy: Clines
Main Ideas:
A graded sequence of words, usually shown on a sloping line. Involves arranging words in a continuum which indicates their degrees of meaning.
Purpose: Reinforce understanding of the meanings of words, add new words to vocabulary, highlights nuances in meaning
What the teacher does:
Choose a word for each end of the cline. Choose words for students to place in between the end words. Write all these words on sets of cards and give an identical set to each pair or group of students
What the students do:
Students work in pairs or groups to place cards in the correct order.
What the teacher does:
Are students recalling known words? Are they discussing the shades of meaning?

Cline Examples:

16. Strategies for monitoring understanding

Main Idea 1:
Predicting and defining new words. Students any words they might find in the text they are about to read. Then they read the text and identify any words that they didn't predict.
Raises students' awareness of key words
What the teacher does:
Prepare a chart, identifying 3 key words. Ask students to preview the text and predict 3 further words in the text.
What the students do:
Students preview the text by skim reading the headings. They list 3 words that they predict will be in the text. They write their definitions of these words. They read the text carefully ticking off the words they predicted then write down those they did not predict. They give definitions for these. Class discussion.
What the teacher looks for:
Are the students able to use the previewing strategies? Ar they aware of key words?

Teachers predicted words.jpg

Main Idea 2:
Giving students opportunities for using new vocabulary. Strategies for assisting memory.

Concept Circles
Purpose: To help students explain concepts and to see the connections.
What the teachers does:
Draw a circle on the board and divide into quarters.In each quarter, write a key word associated with the subject content. The key words must all relate to each other.
What the students do:
Students discuss the words in the circle with a partner and have to explain the relationships between the words. Then share with the whole class.
What the teacher looks for:
Are the students able to explain the links?
Blank segments - students work out missing concept
Whole class activity - each student is given a word. They move around the class, find a partner and make a clear connection between their words.

Concept Circle Examples:

Main Idea 3:
Pair definitions

Students work in pairs. One student writes a definition for a given word and then the other student, who has not seen the original word, writes a word that fits the definition
Gives students the opportunity to recall and write their own definition and find out how well their defintion conveys the meaning to the other student.
What the teacher does:
Teacher prepares two charts (see below) with different lists of key words in the first column.
Have students work in pairs. Give each partner a different chart.
What the students do:
In the second column (definitions), each student writes a definition for each word listed in the first column. The student then fold the paper along the vertical line between the first and second columns so that their partner can see the definitions but not the original words.
Students swap papers with their partner and read their partner's definitions. Each student then writes in the third column (words) the word that they think their partner has defined.
When each student has completed their list, they open it out, compare with their partner's and discuss any they didn't agree on. If they have two different words, they discuss whether their definitions were clear enough.
What the teacher looks for:
Do the students know the subject-specific words? What memory thinking do the students use to recall the word?
Telephone Whispers - increase the number of students from 2 to 4 - prepare 4 charts, each with 5 columns
Word definition word2.jpg

Pair Definition Examples:

17. Strategy: Word and definition barrier activity
Main Ideas:
Students work in pairs to match words with definitions.
Discussion in this strategy enables students to practise saying and using key words, recall the definitions and check their undeerstanding.
What the teacher does:
Prepare a list of key words and list of matching definitions. Make copies of both lists. Have students work in pairs and give each person a list. Ask students to match definitions with the words. One has the words list and one has the definitions list.
Bingo or dominoes
Short vocab quizzes

18. Other strategies for defining words
Word Games:
Word Guessing - draw or mime a word, stick a word on person's back and they have to guess it
Taboo - give a student a word to define and four "Taboo" words that they are not allowed to use in the definition
Call my Bluff - put students in groups and give each group a different word. Ask the groups to compose four definitions for the word - 1 correct and 3 incorrect - other groups have to decide on the correct definition - get points when they get it correct

Word Games Examples:

Interactive Vocabulary Games http://www.quia.com/cb/84669.html
Interactive Vocabulary Games http://www.mathswithgraham.org.uk/?cat=67

Site with lots of templates for bingo or dominoes - maths vocab

19. Strategy: Picture definition