6 Ways to Make Math More Meaningful
Every once in a while I come across an article that is so timely and simply written that I have to share it with my colleagues. In Teaching Secrets: Making Math Meaningful for All, Cossondra George provides 6 relatively simple suggestions for making math lessons more meaningful. Reading the article will provide you with more insight into each of these suggestions. I've provided some simple commentary below. Which of these suggestions have you tried successfully?
Purchase a set of student whiteboards for your class. I cannot tell you how valuable these have been in my teaching. They are simple tools that engage students with their learning. It's more motivating to use a marker and whiteboard instead of pencil and paper. Every time I bring the boards out, students are more excited to get started on the day's lesson.
Create real-life examples of concepts you are learning. I mentioned this in a previous blog entry. It's so important to make the math meaningful and interesting. And, don't forget to ask students how they might use this skill outside of the classroom!
Use small groups and presentations where students teach each other as well as the entire class. Students love to help one another. Providing students with the opportunity to play teacher motivates them to learn content thoroughly and, as the article states, if a student can explain a concept to another it indicates that he or she has a deep understanding of that skill.
Teach the power of "Is your answer logical?" This is so often overlooked. Students compute an answer and write it down. They don't take the time to think about the answer, to use estimation or other techniques to determine if it makes sense. Start asking your students, "Is your answer logical?"
Integrate technology to capture student interest. If it's available, technology is a great motivator for students. So many kids are using technology every day outside of the classroom. It makes sense that they want to use it in school, too. Even getting into the computer lab for one or two lessons a month can help students relate math to other areas of their lives.
Encourage, require, demand re-do's. People make mistakes. Adults seem to understand that, but kids have a difficult time with that concept. Allow students to fix their work and make sense of their errors. If they can determine what they did wrong, it is likely to prevent them from making similar errors in the future.
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