Instructional Strategies to Increase Math Comprehension

Teachers want to include instructional strategies to increase math comprehension, especially in second-language learners.

Recently I was rereading a blog post that compiled a list by the Virginia Department of Education Division of Instruction back in 2004.  They had some great suggestions I would like to share!

  These are tried and true methods that still hold true today.

  •  Integrate the four language modes (listening, speaking, reading, writing) into mathematics class.
  • Model the process. Talk aloud while solving problems on the overhead or chalkboard to show the thinking process and common errors.
  • Have students explain their thinking process aloud to a classmate while solving a problem.
  • Integrate reading and writing through the use of journals, learning logs, poems, literature, etc.
  • Give explicit instruction and practice in reading and writing word problems. Teach students to identify keywords in word problems that indicate a certain mathematical operation.
  • Begin class with warm-up activities using mathematical language to give students practice in sentence construction.
  • Write a cloze exercise (a short paragraph with keywords missing) or sentence starters (i.e., Perimeter is the…) on the board for students to copy and complete when they enter class.
  • Give students a computation problem to solve, and then have them write the steps they used to solve it in complete sentences.
  • Post labels and vocabulary cards around the classroom on completed word problems, number lines, rulers, fraction diagrams, and/or objects in the class.
  •  Have students paraphrase and write complex concepts in their own words (individually, in pairs, or whole class).
  • Review mathematical vocabulary and concepts using games such as TIC TAC TOE, BINGO, Concentration, Charades, etc.

Instructional Strategies to Increase Math Comprehension: Use a variety of modes of instruction

  • Design multi-sensory lessons (visual, auditory, tactile, kinesthetic).
  • Use visuals whenever possible to reinforce auditory instruction (i.e., charts, graphs, manipulatives, diagrams, models, real objects).
  • Use graphic organizers to visually represent mathematical concepts.
  • Design hands-on activities.
  • Vary groupings throughout the lesson (i.e., independent work, pair work, small groups, whole class).
  • Use real-life problem-solving situations to teach new concepts.
  • Make interdisciplinary connections whenever possible

I hope you enjoyed this. Let me know in the comments which are your favorites!

Let’s Teach! Lori

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