The vocabulary of mathematics is often technical and includes specific terms for concepts. As well, there are terms that have prefixes that provide clues to their meaning.
This is particularly true with the naming of units of length, mass and volume. Teaching these prefixes can help students learn new mathematical vocabulary.
Using morphological matrices with measurement units
Bowers and Cooke's (2012) morphological matrix is a tool that teachers and students can use to develop new vocabulary.
In this case, the morphological matrices list the various prefixes that can be combined with the base words to generate new words.
Students could be asked to research online the prefixes of SI units; for both smaller units (deci-, centi-, milli-, etc) and for larger units (deca-, hecto-, kilo-, etc).
Example of morphological matrix using metres
The following table lists six prefixes which have been attached to the base unit 'metre', as well as the numerical relationship with the base unit.
This table can be extended in both directions (larger units and smaller units) as well as being replicated for other base units (e.g. litre, gram). It could be used in a Year 7 class to introduce students to index notation (VCMNA238) or a Year 8 class learning about measurement (VCMMG286).