Friday, October 16, 2015

Student-Created Math Word Walls

Hi, this is Brandi from The Research Based Classroom. Last year I spend a ton of time creating a really great math word wall for my first grade classroom, only to find myself moving up to fifth grade. It looks like this:

When I switched to fifth grade for this school year, I thought I would start making a new math word wall. I brought home my current math books, found old math books, started to search the internet for lists of math vocabulary words for fifth grade and I got overwhelmed with the number of math vocabulary words I would need to do. Not overwhelmed and not tackling this, but more overwhelmed and feeling like my first year in fifth grade has other more important things I need to spend my time on first. So I stopped working on creating a list of words. I still decided to go ahead and put up a math word wall, but I thought I would work on it as we went. Adding the word wall cards a few at a time. I thought by the end of the year, my entire word wall would be complete. Not my best idea. Mostly because I don't own a color printer and running down to the copy store to print one or two cards at a time is quite frankly something I will never do. You have no idea how long it takes me to run to the post office for a stamp! Now here I am at the end of the first term and my word wall is still sitting completely empty. I was lamenting my decision to even put up the word wall when I finally got a good idea. I think it's even a great idea: Why not let my fifth graders create the word wall themselves?

I assigned small groups of 2-3 students one word and they made a mock up of their vocabulary card. These are all words we have already learned in class. I used mostly properties we have worked with or words that go with basic operations. While they wrote their definitions to create their mock up, I went around and helped groups refine some of their definitions. It was a challenge for some of the groups to come up with good definitions even when they were sure they knew the math behind the property. Here are some of the word wall cards they came up with:

I just couldn't bring myself to ask the associative property of addition group to rewrite their examples so that they could keep the numbers in the same order and just change the groupings. I thought it was right on their mock up, but the final product shown here has the numbers moved around. 

 I also wish I had put more emphasis on the name of the property here. Maybe I should have gotten them to write Distributive Property of Multiplication over Addition. But even still, they did a fabulous job and we are now on our way to creating our math word wall together. It was a good learning experience. I hadn't realized how hard it would be for the students to verbalize definitions, it took a lot of discussion for us to agree on how the definitions should be stated and to make sure that everyone understood what each definition meant. Just for the refining of our thinking, this endeavor was worth it. I know this won't work with all grades, but for the upper grades, it just might be better to let them do it themselves.

Thanks for stopping by. 

P.S. If you are interested in my Math Word Wall for Grades 1 and 2, you can find the original and the printer friendly versions at TpT.


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