Math is a vast subject, with complex theorems and different conceptual problems. Because of its complex nature, students are sometimes not motivated to learn and practice math. As a math teacher, it is your responsibility to effectively instruct and motivate your students to learn math. Effective teachers not only focus on the less interested students in their class but also on the motivated students.
Well, you don’t want your students to get lost in math, do you? So here are few math teaching strategies that you can use in your elementary classroom.
Knowing your students is as important as teaching them. As a teacher, you may not find enough time to interact with your students and to know their interests and special skills. But building positive relationships with your students is the initial and most important responsibility of a teacher. When you know your students better, you understand how to teach them and which teaching strategies help them better. So build positive relationships with your students so that you know which areas they need the most help with.
2. Pattern Discovery
Children usually like discovering or finding out new things. So, set up a situation in your class where your students can find out the solution for a given problem by using their own methods. Make sure that the problem leads into the lesson and is within the reach of your students’ abilities. For example, adding the numbers from 1 to 100. Rather than adding in sequence, ask your students add the first and last (1 + 100 = 101), and then the second and next-to-last (2 + 99 = 101), and so on. Then allow them to discover that all one has to do to get the required sum is multiplying 50 X 101 = 5,050. Solving problems in their own approach motivates the students to learn more and practice math for a longer time.
Everyday objects can also help you teach your students math. For example, most teachers often use the ‘Counting Apples’ problem to teach addition. Students start connecting counting with various objects instead of running through a routine numbers game of 1, 2, 3 to learn addition. These objects act as manipulation tools which make it easier for students to learn and understand basic skills. These are ideal because students learn best through hands-on experience rather than traditional lessons and repetition.
4. Indicate The Usefulness Of The Topic
Before you start teaching a concept in your classroom, introduce a practical application that is of genuine interest to your students. For example, in the high school geometry course, a student could be asked to find the diameter of a plate where all the information he or she has is a section smaller that a semicircle. The applications chosen should be brief and uncomplicated to motivate the lesson rather than detract from it. Let your students know why it is important to learn the topic and where this concept is used in their real lives.
5. Math Vocabulary
Teach vocabulary words that are applicable to the concepts being taught in the classroom. Try to include new words in each lesson. Encourage students to increase usage of math vocabulary in the classroom. This makes your students learn and remember the concepts taught in the classroom easily. If you use mathematical language in your teaching, your students will use it too, regardless of their age.
6. Encourage Participation
Conduct contests and quizzes after you complete a portion of math concepts and encourage your students to participate in these contests. You can also occasionally ask questions when you are teaching, and motivate the students to answer these questions and give a small gift to the student who answers the most questions in the class. This helps the students to stay alert in the classroom and enthusiastically learn math.
7. Test Out Flash Cards
Some children learn better by seeing the answer on a card or counting pictures on a card whereas some others won’t truly get the concept of math until you let them count the physical objects. Mix up your math lessons to see which method seems to be working best for your students. Evaluate your students’ learning preferences by trying both flash cards and hands-on experience. This helps you know which way of learning your students prefer.
Everyone knows that learning math is not limited to the text book, every student has a unique learning style and needs no lesson to teach them how to solve a problem. But they need little supervision to learn basic strategies in math. Working as a team allows your students to work out and solve problems faster than solving the problem under the supervision of a teacher by themselves. Students enjoy learning and practicing math with their classmates and friends. You can have a team work session every week, so that students discuss and practice what they’ve learnt in the class.
9. Math Games
Math games are more like team work, the only difference is that here they will not be working as group of children discussing the concepts and practicing math, but few groups of students who show their math skills to compete with each group opposite to them. Games are fun ways to get students to learn. This strategy can be entertaining as well as engaging.
Students tend to be more critical of the work of their peers than teachers would be. So, after conducting class tests, allow your students to assess the work of their peers. Peer assessment allows students to know different ways of solving the same problem and allows them to learn from others’ mistakes. Peer assessment is also good way to generate timely feedback.
11. Mental Math Strategies
Teaching mental math strategies for addition, subtraction, multiplication and division to your students can help them quickly solve the given problems. Teach your students to count back and count up, using doubles and building on doubles, compensation etc. If you encourage mathematical discussions in your classroom, you will start noticing that your students are developing their own math strategies, which is exactly what you want to happen!
Do you have any math teaching strategies that you use in the classroom? If so, please share them with us in the comments section below!