Vocabulary “cards” – My first #Made4Math post!

This kick-off of my new blog starts with my first #made4math post.  I came up with these 5 steps about 4-5 years ago when I started teaching geometry and realized that i needed my students to have a good way to do vocabulary.  I saw this half paper idea from a ridiculous training our school was part of and the only good thing that came out of it was this idea.

So to start you need a half sheet of paper….

You then have to fold the paper in half horizontally….

Now you have to cut a little slit on the top sheet…I normally cut mine about 2 inches from the LHS of the sheet…it doesn’t matter what side you cut it but make sure you ONLY CUT THE TOP SHEET!!


Now you get a piece of paper that when opened up it looks like this….

Close the big flap and you will write your vocabulary word on the RHS (bigger piece) of the flap.  The small little flap on the left is for Step 1 in the vocabulary word process.

Now is the start of the steps:

Step 1: Your own definition

Step 2: The real definition

Step 3: If I was…

Step 4: If I was not….

Step 5: Visual Example

(please see more detailed description in this document)

Step 1: I have students do this on the small little flap just to the left of the vocabulary word.  This is one of the most important steps because it is like the K of  KWL chart.  I want them to use the given vocab word to come up with a definition.  My example is easy but you can see some misconceptions as you watch students come up with what they think the word means.  It is also a good chance to get them to use words INSIDE of the vocabulary word to figure out what it might mean.  i.e. Bisector…bi means two, sector means section etc. (you get the idea)  Lastly, kids hate to do this step…it might not be a surprise to you but they hate being wrong about something so they don’t want to make a guess and have it be wrong.  I try to coax them through this process though because it is important to tap into their previous knowledge.

Now comes the inside and the rest of the steps….I have students draw two lines that will cut the inside into quarters…Then they start doing completing Steps 2-5.

Some notes on the rest of the steps…

Step 2: I normally have students use math textbooks (this is what I use textbooks for) to look up the definition of the words I give (I always make sure those words on in there first).  But whatever references they use make sure it is what you want them to learn…I wouldn’t recommend using Wikipedia???

Step 3:  This is a hard step for those that are just copying down the definition and not thinking about it.  This is the step that makes them think about what it means to BE that vocab word.  Where do they see it in the real world.  What would you look like, act like, be similar to if you were this vocab word.

Step 4: This is to drill home Step 3 because in order to know what something is NOT you need to know what something really IS.  It is very easy for them to get a little ridiculous here so I try to make sure they come up with something that REALLY shows they know what it is NOT.  I don’t want them to write skittles or something ridiculous like that.

Note: When I teach I always try to make it personal to students so that is where steps 3 and 4 came from.  Sometimes it is hard to come up with a real world example of the vocabulary word so in that case I just have them relate it to something in math.

Step 5: This needs be a picture with as little words as possible.  Sometimes they point things out and or have numbers.  Also, textbooks have pictures in their dictionaries sometimes and kids like to just copy those pictures without even knowing what the picture means so I try to manage that while we are doing this step.  I ask them questions if they do end up copying the picture out of the book.

Once students are done the next step becomes accumulating these puppies…I have done the hole punch and put them on those lovely little teacher rings that everyone loves…but paper clips  work just as well.  I was also thinking about making a little pocket in their notebooks for them to put in there (Like Megan’s vocab cards)….If I did this I would still have them put it on paper clip or ring.

Lastly, these vocabs “cards” are just a means to get them thinking but it shouldn’t stop here…you have to incorporate them into the rest of what you do daily…refer to them, have them discuss at tables, etc.  But just doing the vocab cards doesn’t work, this is just like a note taking device but what matters is the magic us teacher do with it.

Please share any ways you have worked your magic with these cards because I am still working on it.  ENJOY!

Vocabulary “cards” – My first #Made4Math post!

5 thoughts on “Vocabulary “cards” – My first #Made4Math post!

  1. nathankraft says:

    I don’t have time to read this just yet…I will later. I’m just super-excited that you have a blog. (Sorry if my picture here doesn’t match my new picture (or the pirate one)). If you follow the order of operations when you read, that last sentence won’t make sense.

  2. Welcome to blogging 🙂 If there was another place for the student defiition, you could use the little flap to staple them into a booklet… I really love the Steps 3 and 4 though! Thanks so much for sharing!

    1. wahedahbug says:

      Good Idea…Another idea for student definition would be on the back…it is important for them to go through this process but I am not sure how much I want them to refer back to it. I do like how when you open to the inside the student definition can be compared…but that is not that important *:)

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