Get your students talking! Encouraging students to verbalize what they see, think and understand in relation to mathematics is extremely beneficial. Using vocabulary in context and explaining thinking to peers is a great way for students to engage and learn the content as well as a great way for teachers to check for understanding. In a sense, the students will teach each other how to complete tasks. Great resources for communication exercises include Kagan Cooperative Learning Strategies—such as Think-Pair-Share, Four Corners and A/B Partners—and Reciprocal Teaching. Some excellent examples for RT can be found online at teachingchannel.org.
Keep your teaching novel! The teaching of mathematics does not have to be the same old song and dance. Students (and teachers) need to move, speak, hear and write mathematics in order to move concepts into long-term memory. The following resources and websites provide a variety of strategies, sample activities and great examples of ways to truly engage your students in mathematical learning:
- Area Education Agency 267 (AEA) Math Strategies – A PDF filled with useful resources for supporting mathematics instruction
- Creative Math Projects – A website with multiple projects that utilize Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence Model
Keep homework relevant and reasonable. Building a math problem timeline using adding machine tape can help students visualize the problem-solving process. Asking students to create layered books that walk through a concept one step at a time, design a sequence chart or illustrate a mnemonic device are all ways to make math homework creative and engaging while also being relevant. Making sure that the amount of homework given is practical and that students don’t feel “overloaded” is also very important. Here’s a story I once heard: A teacher found that his 8th grade students complained when given a full page of math problems for homework every night. So, he made a deal with the class. He would only give a half page of homework. Funny thing: the page became double-sided and included the same amount of problems! However, student perception changed, attitudes improved and homework completion went up drastically.
Provide activities for all learning styles and intelligences. Differentiating your instruction and offering your students a variety of ways to demonstrate their understanding can create meaningful learning experiences that get students excited about math. Below are some suggestions for activities that can tap into different students’ strengths.
Tips for Learners Who Are ____ Smart:
- Word Smart
- Create an audiotape or report on a word, theory or concept
- Create a poster demonstrating a concept
- Math Smart
- Brain teasers
- Conduct a survey
- Teach a thinking skill to another student
- Body Smart
- Brain gym
- Make a video demonstrating a concept
- Hands-on demonstrations
- Picture Smart
- Create a montage or blueprint
- Create a photo album outlining different concepts taught
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