As a language teacher, I often wonder how to make mathematics more meaningful. I got curious, because…
…the numbers, the ‘x and y’ were a horror for me. For me, finding x in the equation wasn’t just as fun as finding Nemo. But, this was before.
When I was a student, Mathematics meant a challenging content area for me. Not that I wasn’t capable of learning it, it’s just frightening for me. I know some of our learners today feel the same way.
But I was inspired by the thought of Albert Einstein that “in the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”
Fortunately, I happened to have a conversation with a college friend who is now teaching maths. I really envied her when we were still studying. Her brilliance in math is awesome! So, I have to talk about her effective teaching strategies today!
Since my students are quite intimidated in learning math, I asked my friend how to make mathematics more meaningful so I can share inspiration with them and also with my math co-teachers, and with you as well.
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Let’s get started and have these numbers splash!
“Mathematics is not about numbers, equations, computations, or algorithms: it is about understanding.” – William Paul Thurston
As a math teacher, you should make learning numbers accessible to students and make them love math more than ever!
And I know that there are maths teachers out there who feel challenged in making their lessons interesting and easy. Then, if you’re one of them, then I should say that you’re in the right place to get insightful ideas on how to make mathematics more meaningful.
Catch these steps and create more numerically literate students. Also, through this article, you can find a way to collaborate and be more passionate about math at the same time.
How to Make Mathematics More Meaningful? 5 Insightful Ways
I’m glad that you visited this page today. I will dole out the effective and insightful strategies my friend shared. Keep reading and add to your bags of tricks to make math easy and fun to learn.
With these steps, your students will all be excited to be in your class as they interact with the world of numbers.
1. Give students a positive mindset about learning math
For me, it’s very important to instill in the minds of your learners that learning math isn’t frightening at all. The friendly learning environment you establish will help students to feel comfortable while they internalize math concepts.
Moreover, your accommodating and friendly nature will help in learning complex concepts easily and less intimidating. Having these characteristics can make a good math teacher.
The positive mindset you instill in your students will help them to like math and to build their confidence in dealing with numbers. I know many students really struggled in math because of their misconception that it’s a difficult subject area.
Show your students that math can be learned easily and that it can be fun. Design and plan out activities that will capture student engagement and interest.
Simply breathe hope and love into this content area so your students will love it too. Provide them support along the way by letting them know that arriving at the wrong answer isn’t a reason to quit and to get frustrated. Let them figure out solutions and guide them.
2. Provide students with interactive drills
When we say drills, it shouldn’t be about rote memorization. You are decreasing students’ interest to learn math if you will just require them to do the same thing repeatedly.
Your extensive knowledge in math will help you deepen the learning process and explain difficult concepts to students with confidence. This is your armor to give students interactive drills that will enhance their creativity.
If practicing becomes your students’ routine, they will get used to solving problems and using standard operations in math. Aside from utilizing your chalkboard in showing solutions and processes, you may use mini-whiteboards so your students can interactively show their solutions. Let them stay with their respective groups while you facilitate learning.
Drill and practice learning is most helpful if it’s done consistently and with varied examples. It is an instructional strategy that gives students multiple repetitions of different exercises to acquire mastery of a certain mathematical concept.
According to my students, they learn effectively if they are provided with examples of varying degrees of difficulty. Furthermore, as used in other content areas, repetitious exercises can scaffold students’ future learning activities.
However, math teachers should avoid using similar problems or equations over and over again. It kills students’ interests and will result in boredom especially to fast learners. Therefore, drill-based instructions should be well-thought of and made interactive.
3. Make the discussions simple yet comprehensive
I know that most students really find math an intimidating content area. However, if math teachers are equipped with various teaching pedagogies they can truly help students learn mathematical content effectively.
There are complex concepts in math that can be taught through simplified terms. Hence, you should simplify, simplify…
Effective math teachers deliver instruction by adapting teaching materials to students’ abilities. They know how to adjust instruction to fit in the puzzle of learning math.
The flexibility of teaching methods makes this intriguing content area accessible to the learners. I know that as teachers we have our standards of learning but we have to always consider the level of the student and the level of difficulty of the learning material.
Simplify your discussions. It’s the key to unlock difficulties in mathematical concepts. Things can be simplified yet made rich and engaging. Your skilled facilitation of different discussions will heighten your student engagement.
4. Let the students solve problems
Math is a hands-on content area. An effective math teacher allows students to work, discover, and solve. Of course, it should be done after a series of examples and drills to ensure that students are able to grasp difficult concepts very well.
Furthermore, if students solve problems on their own they will internalize a deep understanding of content. Perhaps, along the way, they discover alternative ways of solving problems. This way can increase students’ confidence that they can do math well.
As one of the big challenges of math teachers is having their students achieve mastery of mathematical skills and just making them listen and watch you solve the problems won’t really help them.
Then, as the students are solving mathematical problems, you have to identify clearly to what extent your students understand the concept by asking meaningful questions. This is the key to developing mathematical reasoning.
As they arrive at the correct answers, your students will be more excited to explain their solutions and share their strategies with their classmates. I know that facilitating mathematical discussions with students is a challenging task. So, when students are deeply involved in the process, they will be able to answer your questions which is the beginning of having a meaningful dialog with them.
5. Connect math to real-life applications
Well-connected mathematical concepts plus life experiences equal meaningful learning. First of all, you should dig into your students’ experiences and prior knowledge.
Aside from using appropriate tools and manipulatives in teaching math, students will appreciate this content area if concepts are related to their experiences. It’s more than a way of developing students’ critical and creative thinking skills.
In other words, for your instruction to be effective, you should connect math to real-life situations.
With that, students will be able to appreciate the value of math in the real world. To do this, you can go beyond the examples given in the textbook and modify them by relating them to real-life applications.
Going forward, your students should be able to answer the question: When will I use it? The more students know about the practical applications of mathematical problems, the more they consider math as a fundamental content area.
Math teachers just like any other educator in the world should provide relevant and meaningful classroom activities. And integrating math into other disciplines to show its connection to real situations down the road can also make a big difference.
For example, you can embed the accuracy of measurements to infrastructures and architectures in history or help measure the perfect rhythmic patterns in poetry. Over there, you need to be innovative as a teacher to make the integration and relevance really meaningful.
“Pure mathematics is, in its own way, the poetry of logical ideas.” – Albert Einstein
Then, I should say, learning math isn’t scary at all. You should break away from thinking that teaching math is a big challenge. Being innovative can help you make this much-evaded content area interesting and fun.
There are multiple ways of teaching students how to be skillful with numbers. Your creativity and teaching skills really matter. Remember, most of your students fear math. Therefore, you should be the ‘talented math teacher’ they need.
It’s really up to your style and pedagogy. You should be able to break students’ misconceptions that math is a challenging subject area. It certainly calls for your proven ways of being proficient in teaching math. I know you have earned and gained your strategies through experience.
Gladly, you can share them below in the comments and inspire other maths teachers out there.
Happy counting! Blissful teaching!