By Teachers, For Teachers
How do you use teaching strategies to make your math lessons more interesting when so many students hate it? Math has been one of the most-hated school subjects for decades. In fact, according to a study, 4 out of 10 students say that they hate math. Why do students dislike math so much? It involves thinking: You’re usually either right or you’re wrong -- there’s no in-between, and there are so many different calculations to know. For many students, math feels like you’re swimming upstream. It’s not always obvious how numbers fit together, and for a lot of students math is just boring. For teachers, this can create quite a challenge when you’re looking for teaching strategies to engage your students and get them excited to learn about math. Luckily, technology has a way to engage our students into actually enjoying math. Here are a few creative teaching strategies to make math a little more interesting.
Textbooks are not always the best option to keep students engaged. While they may have a lot of information, they tend to be boring. Try math learning stations -- they’re hands-on, which is a great way to keep students motivated and interested. Here’s how they work:
Working in a small setting allows students to be relaxed and actually enjoy math. It’s a great way to help take the stress away from learning from a boring textbook.
IXL.com is an online math practice site for students that has become very popular among teachers. My children have been using it since 1st grade, and absolutely love it. Many school districts purchase the program so that students can use it both inside as well as outside of the classroom. This site has unlimited questions on virtually thousands of different math topics. It is solely meant for practice -- it does not have lessons or tutorials on how to do a math problem. What’s great about this site is that it’s designed to engage students. It provides interactive activities, visual representations, and enticing awards and certificates, all of which are meant to keep students engaged. The best thing about this site is that students can use it in the classroom, and teachers can also assign it for homework.
Using real-world examples is another great way to keep math interesting. By presenting a new math concept in a familiar situation, you can help students build on what they already know. PUMAS (Practical Uses of Math and Science) is a website that offers examples of real-world applications of math, including math magic problems, money math, probability and traffic signals, and many more. This site, which is provided by NASA, is a creative tool that’s used to engage students into learning new and old math concepts. Presenting an unfamiliar math topic by relating it to something they already know about is a great way to “Hook” your students as well as keep them engaged. Students can use this site in school or at home.
What’s better than playing on an iPad? There are countless educational math apps on the market today that are visually stimulating enough to really spark an interest in math for students. The Mystery Math Museum app is a fun and engaging app for children ages 6-12. Its mission is to use math skills to rescue the dragonfly. Students unlock rooms and passages while earning portraits for their gallery. Apps like this help students explore math concepts at their own pace. It also not only challenges students, but engages them as well. This is just one example of an engaging math app. There are literally thousands to choose from. Try one, your students will love you!
A classroom response system is a great way to get your students involved in your lesson, which can make any lesson more interesting. When you involve your students in the lesson, you’re engaging their minds and keeping them interested in the topic. Even if the topic may be challenging (or boring), when you involve students, you’re keeping them engaged. Try using a classroom response system, like a clicker. A clicker is an educational tool that students hold in their hand and physically “Click.” The traditional method is to have students raise their hands, but this method is often not authentic, and students usually look to their peers to answer a question. Clickers, on the other hand, allow students to answer independently and every student in class is engaged at the same time. It’s an effective tool for engaging students during class, and it provides useful information for the teacher.
In short, you can make math interesting, just as long as you utilize technology, create hands-on learning centers, and involve students in every aspect of your lessons. When you do so, you’ll keep students engaged.
How do you keep your students engaged in math? Do you have any teaching strategies or tricks that you’d like to share? Please share with us in the comment section below, we’d love to hear from you.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @empoweringed, on Facebook at Empowering K12 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.