It’s about the tools. Tools assist in creating a final product. These **math tools** listed below are just as important to creating the final product, students understanding mathematical concepts, as the concepts themselves.

## Five Fun & Effective Math Tools

### #1 Purposeful Talk

It’s important that teachers model and instruct on

**. This is teaching students the art of conversing (listening skills) and most importantly, practicing to pause and think before speaking. (Who couldn’t use this sometimes?) One of the things I do is have a weekly Math Huddle. Together we gather as a class, sit in a circle, and debrief on the math instruction for the week. I discuss the importance of respecting, reflecting, and listening during this time.***purposeful talk*### #2 Math Journals

I have my students use a

**daily in centers. They can write, draw, or glue materials in their notebooks. Just like reader’s workshop, students need a place to brainstorm ideas, write their explorations for math, list questions they have, reflect on math problems, summarize concepts, and justify their answers. This is one of the more effective math tools and a good way to assess what a student understands and what misconceptions need cleared up.***math journal (or notebook)*### #3 Vocabulary Word Wall

Typically in lower grades, you will find a word wall with all kinds of sight words as a way to assist with reading. I like to use a

**(though this year, it is on a ring) to frequently review math terms. As we begin studying a unit, we discuss the word and the definition, and then draw some sort of representation. Occasionally as a review or activating strategy, I will play games with our words (including old terms) to keep them fresh in the students’ minds. I have also pulled two different terms and had students discuss why they are important and try to find some connection between them.***vocabulary word wall*### #4 Graphic Organizers

I love to use

**even in math. (I do love organization!) When we are exploring new definitions of words, I like to have students complete the Math Frayer Model. This is where students write the definition in their own words, a representation, an example, and a non-example. I have even substituted “real-life examples” in this model. In addition, students can use Venn diagrams (to compare and contrast concepts), draw diagrams, illustrate steps, and create analogies (sum is to addition as product is to multiplication). Graphic organizers make great anchor charts and can be placed in students’ math journals for reference.***graphic organizers,*### #5 Anchor Charts

I love, love, love

**. They make great references for students, and I have found that these are most successful when you create them together as a class. I have seen students over and over look to where an anchor chart***anchor charts*__was__during testing to “visualize” what it said. Anchor charts do not need to be beautiful or fancy but rather short and to the point. They can be math methods, strategies, and/or steps. Anchor charts are just a brief visual of your mini-lessons.What other math tools can you think of that I may have missed? Let me know below!

For additional great ideas and engaging products, visit my store on TpT!

## The Nitty Gritty:

- Math tools are important to use, because they allow students to further their understanding of the math concepts being taught.
- Purposeful talk gives students the opportunity to reflect and converse about what they have learned in math.
- Math journals can be used by students to brainstorm ideas, write explorations for math, list questions, reflect on math problems, summarize concepts, and justify answers. Teachers can utilize these journals to assess each student’s understanding of what is being taught.
- Vocabulary word walls are great for math, because they can help students to better understand math terms and keep the words fresh in their minds.
- Graphic organizers help students to organize the information they are learning. The Math Frayer Model and Venn diagrams are two organizers that I like to use with my students.
- Anchor charts are short and to the point. They are wonderful references for students to use and are most successful when created together.

Deb Hanson says

Great ideas, Tammy! I love the idea of having the word wall on a ring, and using it to play games as you review words you learned earlier in the year. I totally agree with you on the anchor chart. I have also witnessed students looking to where an anchor chart WAS to try to visualize what it said!