Ashley Watts

Linking Vocabulary & Problem Solving with VKR

During my observation of two fifth-grade mathematics classes, I noticed that students struggle with understanding various mathematical concepts due to their limited knowledge of mathematical vocabulary. Despite being exposed to such vocabulary during SAVVAS “Visual Learning” components for each lesson, students still face difficulties in retaining the necessary vocabulary for solving problems, as revealed by daily/weekly formative assessments and summative assessments. Therefore, I proposed to investigate the effectiveness of a different approach to teaching mathematical vocabulary, which should help in improving comprehension and assist students in solving mathematical problems. The tool I chose was the Vocabulary Knowledge Rating (VKR) tool from ‚ÄúTools for Classroom Instruction That Works‚ÄĚ by Silver Strong & Associates. To test their ability to know, retain, and apply mathematical vocabulary while solving problems, I used one 5th-grade mathematics class as the experimental group and the other as the control group; both classes are similar in size and mathematical abilities. The goal of my study was to see whether utilization of the Vocabulary Knowledge Rating (VKR) tool affects knowledge, retention, and application of mathematical vocabulary when problem-solving. With the experimental group, I utilized the Vocabulary Knowledge Rating (VKR) tool as a strategy to explicitly teach mathematical vocabulary along with the SAVVAS ‚ÄúBuilding Mathematical Literacy‚ÄĚ activities, SAVVAS ‚ÄúVisual Learning‚ÄĚ components, and creating Frayer models after introduction to new learning targets. With the control group, mathematical vocabulary was taught using all the aforementioned strategies except VKR. Various data points were collected over eight weeks including weekly formative assessments, end-of-topic summative assessments, i-Ready Math Diagnostics (winter/spring), and a VKR student survey. After extensive data analysis, I concluded that explicitly teaching vocabulary and allowing students to rate their understanding using VKR yields retention and application of mathematical vocabulary when problem-solving, as indicated by an increase in student achievement on various measures.¬†

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