Welcome back to school! The start of the school year is an exciting time. The strategies you implement and classroom environment you create at the beginning can set a positive tone for the rest of the school year. Here are some specific things you can do at the start of school to make your math classroom a fun and engaging environment that encourages exploration of math ideas. Try some of the tips below!
Make math learning fun and engaging
When students find math fun, they’ll be more motivated to learn. If you try some of the strategies below, you’ll be able to tell your students are more engaged math learners. They’ll look forward to each day’s math lesson and participate more in the lesson. They’ll have more to share during math conversations and they’ll approach math activities with greater enthusiasm. There is wonder in math and the strategies below will help your students discover this wonder and find enjoyment in learning math.
Here are some teaching strategies to make math learning fun and engaging:
1. Use math games or activities:
Games and activities are motivational tools in the math classroom that increase student engagement. They can be used to reinforce math topics that you’ve already taught. Practicing math skills while playing games and doing activities is more engaging than practicing math skills through rote drills. Luminous Learning recently created activity books that include math games. See more here.
2. Read math storybooks:
Children love to hear and to tell stories. Math storybooks can make math come alive and help students connect math to their own lives. Storybooks also introduce students to math language in the text and visual representations of math in the illustrations. Are you looking to increase your math library? Check out some of these authors of math storybooks: Marilyn Burns, Stuart J. Murphy, Pam Calvert, Dayle Ann Dodds, Cindy Neuschwander, and Jon Scieszka.
3. Give choice:
Provide options of math activities when possible and allow students to choose their preferred activity. Students can be given a choice during center or station time. You can provide choice in other ways, as well. For example, students can choose 8 out of 10 HW problems they want to answer or choose if they would rather take a test or complete a project at the end of a math unit. Giving students options to choose from increases their feelings of agency and makes them feel like they’re in greater control of their math learning.
4. Collaboration is key:
Create a collaborative learning environment by structuring group work where students work together in teams of 2 or more to answer a question or solve a problem. Students learn from one another as they use strategies to solve problems, create and test mathematical ideas, and support their learning using mathematical language. Students will not only learn more during group work, but they’ll enjoy working collaboratively with their peers to solve math problems.
5. Make math relevant:
Help students see how math connects to their everyday lives. One way to accomplish this is by assigning word problems that are rooted in things students experience in their day to day life, such as playing on the playground or helping their parents cook dinner. You can also help make math relevant to students’ lives by talking about math ideas that come up outside of the math lesson. For example, you can ask students to estimate how many steps it will take to walk from your classroom to the end of the hallway, then predict how the number of steps will change if someone with bigger feet or smaller feet are making the estimation.
Motivating students to be enthusiastic about math learning is crucial to the success of your math instruction. If you can convince students that math is fun to learn in the first 6 weeks, they’ll be hooked for the rest of the school year. Try one or more of these 5 techniques and leave a comment to let us know how it worked!
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