Mathematical Literacy Starters
I use a wide variety of starters in my lessons, which can depend on the topic currently being taught or be independent of the curriculum. Both have their place in lessons, develop different types of skills. I have several go to ideas which are independent of any current topic and which I can puton the board at the beginning of a lesson (and many of these can be found on here. However, in this post, I am going to share a couple of literacy based maths starters.
As a teacher in an international school, many of my students do not have English as their first language. With this in mind I regularly use one of these starters with my classes. The first starter is called “Missing Vowels”. The idea is simple, a mathematical word is shown to the class, but all the vowels have been removed. They must work out what the word is. For example, what mathematical words are these: CB; SQNC; PRM; VN. The second starter is a “Word Jumble”. Along a similar vein to the vowel removal starter, a mathematical word is chosen, but this time the letters are jumbled into a random order. Again, the students must try to find the original word. Have a go at these: TERVOC; VEENS; SOICREBT. These two starters can be done individually, or in pairs. When I do it with my classes (especially the letter jumble) they tend to work together as a class. The words you choose can be specific words related to the current topic or taken from elsewhere in the curriculum. I always generate the words randomly for both activities using this resource on my website which can be projected on the board and used to generate a random mathematical word from given categories. This also allows me to compete against them as I do not know what word is going to appear. Give me a Word Maths Literacy Starter The final literacy based starter that I use is “Give Me A Word”. In this activity, students are given a random letter and they have to come up with a mathematical word that begins with that letter. Depending on the letter, this can be of varying difficulties, but I always make it more interesting by saying I am looking for UNIQUE answers. Get them to do this individually and write down their word in their books before asking the class to reveal their words. Alternatively they can write their words on mini-whiteboards and hold them up (if doing this though, you need them all to be shown simultaneously, and watch out for students checking to see words that have already been used). I normally give a sticker/stamp to anyone who gets a unique word (that is a word that nobody else wrote down), and also sometimes have a prize for the ‘best’ word (as long as it is spelled correctly of course). This activity can also be adapted to make it more thorough by having students come up with a word starting with the given letter for several different categories within maths (i.e. Algebra, Number, Data, etc). Another alternative with the random letter is to get students to list as many words starting with the letter as they can within 3 minutes. Again, with these starters I have developed an online activity which I use in lessons, that generates a random letter to use. It is really important that we are also promoting literacy in our maths lessons and these starters are a fun way to use 5 minutes of your lesson to practice this important skill.