5 Essential Components of an Effective and Engaging Mathematics Learning Experience
Math is one of those academic subjects that many students either struggle in or disengage from. How can you as a teacher create engaging mathematics experiences that make students look forward to math class? I am glad you asked. Keep reading to find out.
Create a Classroom Setting That Encourages Learning
Staging the physical space, getting students to cooperate, creating a communal environment, and maintaining a positive classroom climate and culture have been suggested as four elements to focus on to create a classroom environment conducive to learning. Such an environment encourages students to be willing to try/learn new things and not be afraid to fail because the teacher is caring and supportive. Relationships among students are encouraged and respect is expected.
Make Math Relevant
All students will eventually ask or think, why do I need to learn math? When will I ever use math again? Unfortunately, students will lose interest and be less engaged in math if they can’t see the relevance to their everyday lives. There are many ways to make math relevant. Teachers can consider lessons on using math in real-life financial scenarios that incorporate concepts about budgeting, saving, investing, spending, and how to figure out if, for example, the newest cell phone advertisement is a good deal. For more tips on how to make math relevant, see 7 Ways to Make Math Relevant in your classroom!
The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics has an excellent article on the Strategic Use of Technology in Teaching and Learning Mathematics. The use of technology in a math classroom also helps to make learning math fun because students have almost unlimited access to exciting web tools and applications. Here five (5) technology tools to engage students and help improve their mathematical competency through technology.
Make Math Social
Many students are interested in and participate in social media platforms. Teachers can create problems from social media for students to research and solve. They can then ask the students to present their findings and urge the students to ask questions of each other. For example, a middle school math class might ask students to research the amount of campaign money raised in the first quarter of 2019 by Democratic candidates for president of the United States. Challenge the students (individually or in groups) to present their findings in an appropriate graphical representation. Similarly, you could ask students to research and rank current rap artists or compare the percentage of Twitter followers by the Kardashian family. Students could also work on projects in groups, present their findings to the rest of the class, or even ask other groups to solve a problem using the data presented. Making math social also makes math fun.
Make Learning Math Fun
As mentioned above, making math social is one way to make math fun. Another way to make learning math fun is to incorporate the use of games and puzzles. Games and puzzles are not only fun for students, but they can also challenge students and help them learn and practice new mathematical concepts. This can be accomplished by answering questions about the game either verbally or in writing. It is also important that after playing a game, students be given an opportunity to reflect on what they learned. The previous link contains over a dozen questions in three areas to engage students in a fun mathematical learning experience. What did we miss?