Make math class awesome for all students
Monday, April 23, 2018
I don't get why a lot of our students shriek when we say it's "math time." Math is so much fun, it is extremely relevant in our technological age, and there are connections to almost everything we need and do every day.
If we make math relevant (connected to everyday concepts and the real world), differentiate rigorous instruction (inquiry, project, problem-based vs. route memorization and process checklist) and engage learners with various learning modalities (using manipulatives and interactive games), we can make math fun for all students.
During planning, do you ever get stuck with connecting the standards to real-world applications? It's easy and rewarding for students to connect to the real world in math class.
These are three of my favorite websites stocked with lessons, videos and materials to connect the various mathematics Common Core State Standards with real-world application.
Mathalicious.com: Tons of free videos, lesson plans and inquiry-based activities linked to real-world application. One of my favorite lessons is "On Your Mark." The question posed is, "Do taller sprinters have an unfair advantage?" In this lesson, students use proportions to find out what would happen if Olympic races were organized by height. The aligned video features the faster man in the world, Usain Bolt, winning one of the many Olympic events.
Watch Know Learn: Tens of thousands of excellent, educational videos in a huge, intuitive directory. Organized, reviewed, rated and described by teachers. Many of the math videos connect to career and technical education fields and skills. For example, one of my favorite videos is "Fashion and Math," in which students dissect math in the fashion industry.
Mash-up Math: Provides new YouTube math videos every week to help math teachers and students to better understand mathematics and Common Core. Tons of connections to the real world, articles and inspiration quotes to support students' growth mindset in problem-solving and persevering.
Differentiate math instruction
I utilize a variety of video platforms to differentiate math instruction. Did you know that over 60 percent of students have a preference for visual and tactile math learning?
In this way students can work at their own pace, allowing me to remediate or accelerate the learning of other students. This technique moves me from being the sage on the stage to individualizing and allowing students to facilitate their own learning, grappling with the content in other meaningful ways beyond "Step 1, 2, etc."
Learnzillion.com has hundreds of videos that contain tutorials mixed with independent student problems for students to solve. Edpuzzle.com allows teachers to use pre-existing videos or create their own with quiz questions. Scholastic's Studyjams has interactive videos and lesson where students solve various concepts with fun tunes and characters.
Though there are tons of hands-on manipulatives to support the Concrete Representation Abstract (CRA) framework to support students in building a conceptual understanding of math content, there are also free platforms that have virtual manipulatives for K-12 students to interact with core standards using their digital devices. My top three websites are NCTM's Illuminations, National Library of Virtual Manipulatives and A Maths Dictionary For Kids.
As math educators, we know all students learn math differently and that a one-size-fits-all approach is simply ineffective. As we prepare our students for jobs of the future that do not yet exist, one thing is certain — they will need math skills.
Let's increase the relevance and rigor, individualize, and differentiate math instruction to get our students excited about the awesomeness of math.
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