82% of students in grades 7-10 fear math. Math is a challenging subject for students of all ages, and many teachers struggle to teach it effectively. Are your math lesson plans in need of an upgrade?
Teaching (and learning) math doesn’t have to be stressful. We’re here to talk about a few things you can do to make your math classes more engaging and helpful for students. Read on to learn more.
1. Prioritize Hands-On Activity Time
Many learners really need hands-on time in order to effectively learn. They’re tactile learners, and it’s easier for them to understand concepts when they’re able to explore them with more of their senses. This is especially helpful in special education classrooms, but all students can benefit from hands-on learning.
So what does this look like in a math classroom?
It depends on the age of your students, of course, but in most cases, you need physical representations of math problems. There are plenty of fun ways to do this and you don’t even need to spend a lot of money on supplies.
For example, you could have students use play money to learn about adding and subtracting in a “real world” context. You can use simpler objects, like decorative puffballs, small toys, or even handmade objects for hands-on math activities.
You can also use blocks, like Legos, to help children understand fractions, 3D shapes, and so much more.
Think about how much easier it is to understand addition or subtraction when you can see objects being added or subtracted right in front of you. Sometimes that hands-on activity will be a perfect way to get a student who’s struggling to understand a concept.
2. Incorporate Visuals
Visuals are crucial when you’re trying to teach mathematics to young learners. Written lessons and textbooks are important, yes, but visuals will make a lesson more engaging and help children understand complicated concepts.
Use pictures and graphics whenever it’s possible to do so. Children who may struggle with understanding concepts that they read or hear will have a far easier time when they’re also able to visualize those concepts.
Incorporate flashcards into your lesson plans. Flashcards are a quick and easy way to help children grasp math equations and ideas. You can incorporate flashcards into any lesson as a quick way to revisit old ideas or you can use them to introduce new ideas.
It’s also helpful to have visual aids on the walls of the classroom if it’s possible to do so. This way, even if you’re not teaching a particularly visual lesson, your students can still look up at the visual aids for help.
3. “Gamify” Your Lessons
Who doesn’t love games? Children and adults alike can learn better through games. Games make learning more fun and engaging, they give teachers a much-needed break from lectures, and they’re incredibly effective.
There are so many ways to use games.
You can make your own games, have students play math-based board games, have students play online learning games, or even do fun physical games, like four corners. Online games are perfect for Fridays when children are ready for the weekend and they’re also great for days when you have a substitute teacher in the classroom.
When students know that they’ll be playing games in the classroom, they’ll be excited to come to class. Instead of “spacing out” during lectures, they’ll remain engaged.
4. Have Students Explain Their Thoughts
After you teach a math concept to your class, assign an activity that requires the students to use that concept. Math worksheets and games both work for this.
Instead of just collecting and grading the activity, have children explain the thought processes behind their answers and ideas. This way, if a child gets something wrong, you’ll be able to understand where they went wrong right away.
This will make it easier for you to help individual students who may need extra instruction.
You can also have children work in pairs and explain things to each other. Children can often fill in the gaps in each other’s understanding. Explaining something out loud can also help a child recognize when they’ve done something wrong or solidify their understanding when they’ve done something right.
5. Incorporate Real-World Scenarios
Many students struggle to grasp abstract math concepts if they can’t apply those concepts to real-world scenarios. They may also struggle to understand the importance of math if it doesn’t seem applicable to their lives. This is especially true for older students, like high schoolers.
As we mentioned before, applying math concepts to money is a great way to add a “real-world” aspect to a lesson. Students understand that math is important when it comes to figuring out how much money they’re able to spend on things. You can use money to explain things like percentages, interest, addition, subtraction, and more.
Many teenagers want to learn about things like credit cards, investing, and taxes because they know they’ll need that information later. Luckily, these are all things that fit well into any math classroom. Keep students engaged by teaching them things they can use.
6. Do “Stations”
Stations are great for teaching concepts in several different ways during the same class period. This way, students with all different types of learning styles will all be able to benefit from the lessons.
Set up several stations with activities that relate to the concept taught during the main lesson. One station can be super hands-on, one can be more visual, one can be a written activity, one can be a game, and so on.
Every student will have time at every station. Have students switch stations every few minutes.
Improve Your Math Lesson Plans This Year
Great math lesson plans can help children truly grasp math concepts, even if they’re challenging. Help your students improve their math skills by making some small adjustments to your lesson plans before the next school year begins!
Are you looking for helpful resources for your lesson plans? Check out our resources for math teachers today.