Transitioning from teaching math in front of a class to a basically virtual classroom seems to have everybody on the quest for the best ways to teach math online.
Thanks to efficient e-learning methods for making virtual teaching manageable. However, it’s different when it comes to subjects that are more objective like math, and as a teacher, you understand the need for more support.
Other than the need to follow the rules of distance learning is to figure out how your students are doing. Most of all, you must be adept and comfortable at using computers, understanding software, including some knowledge of technical problems.
It may seem like a lot, but you understand the need to connect your students between the math topic and their expectations of problem-solving. If you’re not sure how – I found five simple ways to help you teach math online efficiently.
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Learn these 5 Best Ways to Teach Math Online
Many teachers use digital tools to help students visualize math concepts better. Desmos or Fraction Talks, for instance, have already been a part of their repertoire before the pandemic. But for other teachers, remote learning pushed them to explore math apps and online resources for the first time.
1) Familiarize Online Tools/Resources
Let’s face it, the lack of information and techniques cause why students may find it more challenging to learn math. As an online teacher yourself, it pays to be abundant in references, tools, and methods to use.
Both you and your students have to be well-versed with the different platforms of remote learning. Be prepared by allowing a few hours to run practice sessions on different virtual software by yourself or with some colleagues and see which ones fit your teaching style the best.
Mastering your resources likewise helps you teach students to practice skills beginning with counting, addition, and subtraction. In short, the familiarity of simple text-based environments to complex graphics in the virtual world should begin with you.
Are you familiar with Moose Math? It’s a free app for iPhones and iPads where students can play math games and help them master math skills. In this aspect, it’s not only the gaming routine that is given a thought, but how its format engages kids in a mathematical adventure of basic math, sorting, and most importantly, navigating.
The good news is, with the increasing approval of STEM-focused learning, more and more students are starting to get comfortable with challenging math courses, which is a big benefit on your part.
Of course, you could use more than one app if you think it would make the lessons easier for the students. It is also advisable to inform them of the necessary online tools and resources beforehand so they can study or learn about the tools and come to your online class well-equipped for the course.
2) Modify Your Online Course
Because math courses require in-depth arithmetical solutions, it comes with different types of interactions with students. Simplifying your outline into what works for them gives them the opportunity to solve a problem first, rather than be told how to solve it using confusing rules.
Are you the teacher who often starts the class with “Here’s the new set of problems for today.” or “Here’s the correct answer to yesterday’s test?”
The problem here is — you begin with a lousy salutation that sounds like no attempt for motivation. The thought that this is a math subject already comes with quite a bunch of “fear”, especially to younger learners.
What about saying “Hi there how are my young math experts? Is there anything you want me to do for you today?”
It is good to counterbalance agitation by starting with a joke, a fun diagram, a story, or perhaps a short relaxing video related to the subject. This counterpoise should outline an interesting problem coming in so students can relate to it better and feel more secure.
You can be creative using little tweaks that offer light and ease. The great thing here is you’re making it easier for both you and the students to adjust to the new learning environment.
Even in a real classroom setting, math is quite a challenging subject to teach so it’s helpful when online syllabus can be more flexible than the traditional framework. The modifying strategy will efficiently improve and maximize your lectures, activities, and assessments.
For example, a short video containing detailed explanations and solutions will help students go over the video again and again. Include concrete examples and leave the abstract concepts to later. This is a proven technique in promoting step-by-step digestion.
Think of this as your way of simplifying your math course to ease your students’ struggle and improve their learning, instead. Being prepared to answer questions or troubleshoot lets your students know you are there to help them understand the lesson.
Schools are successful at teaching math remotely. I found this video with 3 ideas to help you become successful at teaching math remotely.
3) Establish Time for Practice
Practice time establishes a good break for the brain. What’s can be so much fun here is the chance to play an online game for students. Again, involving online games in your subject matter is not a detrimental cause but a time to practice lessons in order to develop skills.
You must be familiar with abcya.com or mathgames.com? Here, it allows you to search for games by grade level, skill, and common core standard. If not, you can use virtual manipulatives. ToyTheater or Didax can help you work with students on the learning objective.
For example, you can use the virtual manipulative fraction strips for your fraction lessons. Even Algebra, Matrices, and Quadratics or Calculus are available for practice. The virtual whiteboard, to me, is a great learning space where you and your students can write and interact.
It’s fortunate that you can have instant access to worksheets and download them for free. Everyone will feel good with optimized web pages that they can easily view on their phones and tablets wherever they are.
There is online support for math courses offering 24/7 access if you want to make sure nobody misses the chance of unlimited learning materials available to learn and practice.
Remember that you’re teaching math so an extra effort on your part can escalate your students’ online learning experience. With all the materials on the wide web, your lessons will no longer be an exhaustive thing in their mind.
4) Let Creativity engage your students
Don’t make them sleepy. Activate their brains. Involve them.
Letting them feel they are part of the lessons activates their mood. One reason they switch off is when you keep talking to them (especially in an online setting) without allowing them to feel the star of the class.
Have you tried meaningful activities?
- Think of concepts that they can role play
- Enjoy revision activities like games that can help them remember symbols and solutions
- Put life to your discussions such as question and answer, comparisons, analyzing, etc.
- Get their ideas and how they feel about the topic
- Encourage them to express themselves
Students by nature appreciate being asked about their ideas. It makes them feel important and it uplifts their sense of belongingness. It’s one way for you to gauge them, their understanding of the lesson, and their individual concerns about math.
Ask interesting questions. It has become a general thought for students that math questions “always” arise from a textbook or worksheet and that they come with figures that require calculation.
Students gain a lot of insight when given the chance to create their own questions. They also respond well to compelling challenges. What about statements like “Which is correct?”
A truck carrying piles of wood cannot move forward uphill. What should the driver do?
1. cancel the trip
2. reduce the load
3. throw the woodpiles
Well, from the context alone, it can bring some laughter. Why would the driver throw the woodpiles in the first place?
Giving them individualized assignments is another way to encourage creativity. It brings them to think of the bigger picture that you trust them and they are smart enough to do it. Giving them authority is more likely to generate feelings of confidence.
Don’t you think this offers more benefit than the typical one-assignment for all?
5) Set Realistic Expectations
Activities and assessments should not be more difficult than the problems that the students encounter in your lectures. In fact, it’s your obligation as a teacher, to make their math online learning at least comfortable.
Teachers, students, and parents are still adapting to the distant learning trend. Educators setting clear schedules obviously promotes clear learning objectives. This helps in the transition by caddying students to identify what they need to focus on each day.
When students are confused about what practical problems actually mean, how can you expect them to follow the abstractions of those problems?
Anticipate learning variabilities by setting your learners first. You’ll find it best to establish a regular schedule for everything from assignments, assessments, practice, and even homeroom (why not?) and other things you want during the entire course. Regular contact with your students also assures them of your support.
As both parties will be seeing and working from these guidelines, the key to effectively managing your class is to be constantly “present” in your online classroom.
The bottom line is in creating a better online learning experience by serving and meeting the desires of math online students without sacrificing the quality of learning. On the other side, expecting too much from them in this transition may end you up disappointed. Likewise, you need not pressure yourself by trying to set up a flawless math class online.
Being realistic will make both parties understand that the entire focus in your online class is more on providing the students with information that can improve their mathematical abilities.
6) Maintain Communication with the Students
Math is a quite “demanding” subject. Therefore it is a collaborative effort between the teacher and the students to effectively run a systematic class online. Naturally, you, as the teacher, should be easy to reach when the students are having difficulties with the course works.
Providing feedback as fast as possible on the assessments of your students is one way to do that. Students often find it hard to imagine what your subject can offer more when there is a lack of communication.
Don’t be afraid to solve simultaneous technical challenges, such as coincidental discussions or collaborative activities. Since everything relies on technology, a backup plan for all assignments and assessments would also be a wise tactic.
Like any face-to-face communication, the goal of your online class is to connect with students. Let them be heard, help them understand, and most of all, foster a sense of community in the class.
It may seem like a lot to adjust to but, through these simple ways, the experience of teaching math online is going to go smoothly. Think of this as a challenge that could open a lot more opportunities.
To sum it all
Many math students feel exhausted about learning math. In fact, they have very little confidence in how to perform better at it.
The sense that you are teaching math means you have more say in what the topics are. While some schools “discourage” going out of the rules, a little creativity can add more sense to your teaching prowess online.
There are many ways you can cheer up students in math and the online platform has a lot to offer when it comes to creativity. I’ll leave you this question to ponder upon,
“Do you believe that you can find and use creative means to help your online students describe a mathematical concept?
I hope you enjoyed the strategies presented. Any advice you can recommend? Share your thoughts in the comments.