Monday, December 26, 2016

Better Ways to Teach Math

Female, Girl, Woman, Human, People As a math teacher, I am always looking for ways to improve my instruction and as I've been reading research on the brain and the way it works, I'm discovering ways I've never thought of to use in my teaching.

There are suggestions out there which can help us but honestly if you are like me, you don't always have time to implement everything you want to.  I've found the best way is just to start with one or two things, get them implemented and then add another one or two things.

Here are a few easily implemented suggestions to help students with their learning.

1. Ask "Why?"  Ask them why something worked at least once a day. Ask why it would work with other numbers.  The why is important.

2.  Rather than looking at whether the problem is right or wrong, look for what students did correctly and build on that because it shows what they understood.  You can build on it during the next discussion or task.

3. Use the textbook to find meaningful tasks or tasks that can be easily adjusted to be more meaningful.

4.  Provide at least one opportunity for students to solve problems mentally.  This helps increase their ability to determine if the answer makes sense and allows their creativity in solving problems to develop.

It is said the students who struggle most with math have difficulty remembering their basic math facts, have difficulty solving word problems, and completing multi-step equations.  One way to help them learn the subject is to break the steps into micro steps and access their understanding at each micro step.

In addition, add in something they can relate to without the math.  For instance asking them to add a negative and a positive number often results in a guess for the answer.  Instead ask them if you lost that amount of money and someone gave you money is it good or bad.  Such as for -8 + 3, you tell them they lost $8 and were given $3, is it a good day or a bad day?  No answer involved but there is a context.

Let me know what you think about this.  I know these look like ones, I plan to include in my teaching in the future.  Have a good day.