Vocab Pre - Test ... What do my kids know/ where are they at?

I am going to be on camp this Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, so before I go to camp I wanted to do a blog post explaining what I did in class on Friday to help with my research into my inquiry. 

 Would integrating the teaching of strand maths with number, help
kids to better acquire key mathematical language, raising their

I wanted to get a general idea where my class was at in terms of their understanding of key mathematical vocabulary. I as the teacher, from observations on a day to day basis know that the understanding and use of mathematical vocabulary in my class is poor, however doing a CoL inquiry this year I needed to have more sound data to prove this. I found a very simple vocabulary activity online and got my learners to complete it. It looked like this:

The front of the sheet had a bank of words. They were: add, difference, divided by, combined, per, subtract, sum, times, minus, multiple, shared, increased by, plus, take away ratio, product, together, decreased by, quotient, multiplied by, more, twice

The learners had to put the word into the box they associated it with, either addition, subtraction, multiplication or division. 

On the back of the sheet the symbols were now colour coded. Plus was red, take away was blue, times was green and divided by was orange. The learners has to circle the words with the colour symbol they thought went best with it, for example, the word less than would be circled blue. 

Below you can see some examples of my learners work.

Firstly, I had only 18 children complete this task.  I have a total of 30 in my class, so only this only gave me information on 60% of my class, so this wasn't exactly a good reflection of my class as a whole. I am going to make this into a digital activity, and make it slightly different and use after camp. 

Because this activity wasn't meant to be about reading, it was meant to give me a grasp of their understanding of mathematical words, if there was a word a child couldn't read they were able to put up their hand and I would read it to them.

Interesting findings:

-  Only 1/18 learners put the word ration under the division section
- 5/18 learners wrote the word 'shared' under division
- O learners were able to associate the word quotient as a division word.

- 17/18 learners associated the word 'add' with addition
- 13/18 learners associated the word 'plus' with addition
- 6/18 learners associated the words 'increased by' with addition
- 10/18 learners associated the word 'combined' with addition
- 11/18 learners associated the word 'more' with addition
- 0 learners were able to put the word sum into a group

- 16/18 learners associated the word 'subtract' with subtraction
- Only 8/18 associated the word 'minus' with subtraction
- Only 3/18 learners associated the word 'decreased by' with subtraction
- Only 5/18 learners associated the word 'difference' with subtraction'
- 15/18 learners associated the word 'take away' with subtraction

- 13/18 learners associated the word 'multiplied by with multiplication
- 15/18 learners associated the word 'times' with multiplication
- 10/18 learners associated the word 'multiple' with multiplication
- None of my learners associated the word 'product' with multiplication

What did I learn from this task?

Well firstly, I realise the majority of my class have a very basic bank of maths words. They associate the obvious with addition, like plus and add. Very few children were able to look further than this when there were so many other addition words like increased by. If this is the extent of the knowledge of children's mathematical vocab, any question uses words other than add or plus they are going to struggle to answer it, therefore failing the question and being unable to answer it. Not because of a lack of understanding how to add numbers together, but because they didn't understand the words used in the question. 

I was pretty shocked that only 27% of my learners associated the word 'shared' with division. To me, the main idea of division is to SHARE equally. Perhaps it threw them off not having the word equally after share. 

It is clear that a lack of vocab is a big problem in my class. I do believe this is holding them back in finding the answer, and explaining how they solved it in maths. It will be very interesting to see the PAT test scores.


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