Typical to Technical Vocabulary Strategy

Many words in math have a technical meaning and a more common meaning with which the students may already be familiar.  Blachowicz and Fisher (2006) suggest using the known meaning of the word to help clarify the new meaning.  The first step in the strategy is to discuss the common, known meaning of the word.  This is a way of activating background knowledge.  Without this activation step, relevant knowledge that students already possess may not be recalled during reading, and comprehension may fail (NICHHD, 2000a).  Then, guide students to match the common and technical meaning with the word (Blachowicz and Fisher, 2006).  Finally, students should be able to fill in the blanks with a maze activity to cement the new definition into place.      

Strategy Steps

1.    Discuss the common meaning of the word.

2.    Introduce the technical meaning.

3.    Have students practice word/meaning that match the word with the common and technical definitions.

(Blachowicz & Fisher, 2006, p.85)

Strategy Example

target word common technical
point aim a finger to call attention a single location in space
supplementary supplying what is lacking either of two angles that together form exactly 180 degrees

Select the best word to complete the sentences below. 

  1. Two angles that go together to equal 180 degrees are _________________angles.
  2. The child began to _____________ at the shooting star.


Implementation Guide

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