Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Reflection on Vocabulary

Tonight, I was trying to narrow down the 28 vocabulary words in the first section of my algebra text to a more manageable 13 or 14.  I was actually having a hard time because I know that all of these words will creep up again on my students on a test produced by the text or on a homework problem.  When I looked at the 28, I was having a hard time deciding which words should be cut.

Therefore, the mess above started.  I thought if I could draw out the connections and determine the words that would be connected together the most often, I could narrow it from there.  My mess of solid lines and dashed lines started to draw a very clear picture for me.  It confirmed something that my gut had been telling me the last couple of years.  The words that I think are the most important and vital to students future math classes doesn't agree with the publisher's opinion all the time.

After creating the mess of lines,  I took out my highlighters (because every teacher has more than one) and highlighted the words in yellow that had the most connections from/to them.  The orange are words I think my students really should know for the future and are part of a standard.  I realized that there are words, like closure, that I would stress to the students because it popped up in homework and on the tests produced by the publisher.  One reason the students always struggled was due to lack of connection with the other lessons in the first section.  Closure only connects to counterexample and there should be a line up to sets.  Other vocabulary can be connected to other terms in other contexts.

Looking at this mess of lines, I am realizing that this might actually be a really good activity to do with students.  I could start a flip chart on my interactive white board and we could revisit it after every lesson and add the new vocabulary and draw the connections on the board.  Students could also keep an ongoing chart in their INBs.  I am thinking through my keyboard right now, but I am starting to see some possibility here.

Does anyone have a good way of narrowing vocabulary?  Love to hear your ideas!

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