Education & Training

Effective Teaching Strategies of Maths

By Aamna Shamim

Mathematics seems one of the challenging subjects for many students. Although, it becomes a source of anxiety in many individuals who had past negative experiences with it. The term ‘Maths Anxiety’ is well known considering these unpleasant experiences towards Maths. During interacting with many teachers and students, I ask them one question and take their responses to draw. The question was ‘How do you feel about Maths?’ I got positive and negative responses to this question. As an optimistic mathematics learner, the negative responses were outrageous for me. I would like to share one response of a student.

Though, it is futile to do for adults who had awful experiences with Maths. They developed a hatred for this subject. But, this is a depressing moment when I found the negative responses from students. Those who are studying Maths and they have to study it in their later life. Many of them study Maths keeping this negative attitude. And when they get a chance to escape from this subject, they take it as a blessing.

As a teacher, we have to think of ways of making Maths more interesting that it encourages students to learn. They enjoy Maths; they love Maths, and they feel safe responding to Maths questions. So, the questions are; why are students not taking an interest in this subject? What kind of mathematical experience are students taking? And how can we make math learning meaningful to our kids? Considering these points, I am going to share seven effective teaching strategies for Maths. Let’s look:

1. Using Manipulatives or real objects

The abstraction in Maths becomes a hurdle in understanding concepts. Avoid the Paper pencil approach of teaching Maths as much as possible; give them real-life experiences as much as you can. Giving concrete experience in learning math concepts is beneficial. It creates a great impact on retaining the concept in mind for a long time. Different manipulatives are available for teaching Maths concepts, like counters, Cuisenaire rods, fraction tiles etc. But we can use real objects which are easily accessible in our surrounding. Below are some ideas for giving experiential learning of Maths to students:

  • Activities such as measuring the length and width of different objects using paper clips, straws, or ice cream sticks.
  • Showing fractions on paper strips or paper plates.
  • Showing fruits that represent different fractions (half, quarter)
  • Let students use play dough for understanding different Math concepts. For instance children make solid shapes models using it. For learning fraction, they can make objects with play dough and then represent them with different fractions.
  • Let students design their patterns (they can make necklaces using beads.)

2. Games

Learning through games creates interest in students towards Maths. It helps them in developing important skills, such as problem-solving, decision-making, and communication skills.

There are some traditional games which can fulfill Maths objectives. Chess is one of them. It develops many essential skills which one requires dealing in their lives. The power of decision making, taking alternatives and seeing the pros and cons of different moves. There are other traditional games too, which can teach very important life skills and meet mathematical objectives. Hopscotch, Dominoes, dice and cards games, such as Monopoly and Ludo.

Teachers can develop various games on their own. There are various templates are available on the internet. On the theme of Domino, we can develop games for teaching several mathematical concepts. Fractions and Time Dominoes are one of them.

Computer games and apps can also instill mathematics skills. But it would be a better approach to inculcate an environment where children learn through social interaction. As we know, today’s children are already spending a huge time on screening.

3. Open-ended question

Usually, Maths comprises close-ended questions. We have to change the approach and think creatively to include open-ended questions in our teaching. An open-ended question is a question that has over one correct response.

This kind of variety engages students’ learning. Some examples of open-ended questions are:

  • The perimeter of the rectangle shape fence is 20 meters. Can you explore each dimension of the shape? How many ways possible?
  • Two halves making one whole. Like ½ + ½ = 1

Can you explore other ways of adding fractions to make 1 whole?

  • A child builds a house using ten blocks. Ask them how many blocks do you use for building this house? Can you make any other things with the same number of blocks? How many things you can make with the same number of blocks?

4. Relating with Arts and crafts

Young learners are keen to do arts and crafts things. So they are very interesting to do activities which involve painting, drawing and craft work. Some ideas for this strategy are:

  • Instruct students to draw one more object and then count how many objects altogether.
  • Draw objects to make them eight.
  • Teacher provides different cutouts shapes representing fractions. Students make a picture collage using those cutouts.
  • Make a model using solid shapes (cube, cuboid, sphere, etc.) present in the environment.
  • One-third add two third is equal to one whole. Can you show this in visuals?
  • Instruct students to find patterns in the environment and take photographs.

5. Storytelling

Storytelling is also an effective strategy for teaching Maths. Using this approach seems challenging for Maths teachers. This would be time taking for them to create stories for specific concepts of Maths. But remember, there are various kinds of learners in our classroom. Some are very good auditory learners. So, storytelling can give a positive impact on their learning. Many math readers are available, so you can use that resource too. Teachers can create stories on their own.

6. Mind mapping

A mind mapping strategy is dominant for the teacher to conclude the concept she taught previously. For instance, the teacher was teaching fractions for one month, including different subtopics around fractions. The teacher can make a mind map on board to conclude what they have learned about fractions. Students made their own mind maps in their notebooks.

7. Interdisciplinary connections

One reason for taking Maths as boring is the way it is taught in isolation. How can a child make real-life connections with Maths if they didn’t get an opportunity? As a Maths teacher, think about ways to find interdisciplinary connections. There are some examples:

  • Children grow plants and measure how they grow. They plant a seed and when it will grow, they record its height weekly. And then make a bar graph of it.

Conclusion

Creating interest in students for learning Maths should be considered as important goal. These effective strategies will help students to retain the Maths concepts for a long and remain their interest too.   


Author Bio: Aamna Shamim has a rich teaching background and has diverse experiences in the field of education. She had given her services in teachers training and curriculum development projects.  She is the co-author of the children books series; developed for the subjects of Maths, Science and Social studies. In her Research project, she has passionately investigated the problems that are usually faced by learners in Maths and has devised strategies to resolve them.

Aamna is a homemaker and a mother of three homeschoolers. She writes blogs in her free time.


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