Mathematical Discourse, Writing, and Academic Vocabulary

Levels: K–12

Format: One day, usually combined with other training events or site visits

Audience: Classroom teachers, math coaches, district and school leadership, and specialists


This one-day workshop focuses on strategies to effectively learn math vocabulary and use reading, writing, and discourse to help all students, particularly English learners, become more proficient in math. Research shows math texts are the densest of all types of textbooks, and many students do not know how to read and use math texts as resources. Writing about math helps students develop thinking and understanding, and provides opportunities for assessing understanding and identifying misconceptions. Talking about math, or student discourse, on a regular basis develops and clarifies thinking, provides opportunities to speak and hear math language, and offers additional opportunities to assess understanding and identify misconceptions. Central to reading, writing, and talking about math is vocabulary. Mathematical vocabulary presents several types of challenges, including specific and specialized mathematical terminology, words with multiple meanings, homophones, and small words in confusing contexts. Participants in this workshop will work through these challenges and explore strategies for learning and using vocabulary, reading and understanding math texts and math word problems, writing about math, and developing mathematical discourse.

Participant Outcomes

  • Use reading, writing, and discourse to help students become more proficient in math.
  • Learn about challenges with math vocabulary and strategies for addressing these challenges.
  • Identify the unique challenges with math texts and math word problems, and learn strategies for addressing these challenges.
  • Recognize levels of discourse and how to develop and promote meaningful discourse.
  • Learn strategies for incorporating meaningful writing activities that promote learning mathematics.