Home Forums Teacher’s Discussion Forum Learning new mathematical words

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    What ideas have you got for helping learners to develop their understanding of mathematical words?

    Not so long ago I was in Noxolo Tongo’s classroom in Gugulethu near Cape Town and the Grade 6 learners were working in groups on 2D shapes. One group asked her the meaning of a word and she said “You know what to do”. So one of the group went to the bookshelf and took a mathematical dictionary and the group looked up the word. Then the same thing happened with 2 or 3 more groups. I thought “Wonderful, these learners can find things out for themselves, they are learning to be independent learners”. Then Noxolo started a class discussion about the meaning of a certain word. One learner read out the definition from her dictionary. The class discussed what it meant. Then another learner read the definition from the dictionary he had taken from the classrooom bookshelf and, to my surprise, IT WAS A SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT DEFINITION FROM A DIFFERENT DICTIONARY. The class discussed what was the same and what was different about the two definitions until they all had a good understanding of the word and also of the English words used to give its meaning. What brilliant teaching!

    Here are 2 dictionaries you might like to see if you can bought for your school.

    Illustrated Maths Dictionary Judith de Klerk
    Published by Pearson Education, Austrlia ISBN 978-0-7339-0470-7
    3rd Edition 1999 Re-printed 2006

    Multilingual Mathematics Dictionary for Grades 1 to 6
    Published by South African Department of Arts and Culture National Language Service 2003

    Sdumo Msindo

    That was great, I think we need to do the same to our learners. i.e. let them discover for themselves and then help where there is a gap than to tell them because they will memorise without understanding. I think then there is a need for the multilingual dictionary especially in grade 4 since learners will be coming from foundation phase where they were taught in their home language, this will help a lot to those learners.

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