Ok, so now we are on blog post #4 in my math series, and with this post, I wanted to get into the nitty-gritty of teaching mathematics. Math is one of the most challenging subjects to teach, and if you ask teachers across the United States and around the world if they enjoy teaching it, the answer will probably be no. Why? I am not sure. It is definitely one of my favorites. So here are some tips for teaching math to make things easier for you!
5 Tips for Teaching Math
These tips for teaching math do not go in any particular order and are very simple to implement in your classroom, and they also do not dive into specific math instruction, math skills, or math concepts. I want these tips for teaching math to be used by any teacher from primary grades up to high school if needed.
Tip #1: Small Groups and Partnerships
The math workshop model is not for everyone, and I totally understand that! But, try at some point to meet with your students in small groups or allow them to work in partnerships. You can not always get a reading on all students when you are teaching a whole group; students often understand that and will try to blend in and go unnoticed. If you use small groups and partnerships to check in with students and determine what students need, it will benefit you (and your test scores) in the long run!
It is also nice to let students partner up during class. A good math discussion with a partner can help foster a growth mindset in students and give them the opportunities to work together to solve a complex problem or just problem solving skills when they do not agree on the answer in a math game during independent time.
Building relationships between students does not need to just happen during morning meeting time!
Tip #2: Materials Ready to Go!
Gone are the days of learning standard algorithms and moving on to the next topic. The new normal is interactive and deeper understanding! Math problems today ask students to use manipulatives, whiteboards, number lines, etc. These help them solve problems before jumping into math concepts like standard algorithms.
You will need a lot of different materials with this new way of teaching. I promise you it is best to have them ready to go! I discuss how to store math materials in this blog post here! This post gives you some pretty awesome ways to store your math supplies.
Tip #3: Grab Station for Manipulatives
Since so many math programs ask teaching to have a plethora (oh, fancy word!) of math manipulatives. It is best to have them in a place where your students can grab them when they need them. Having them in a high cabinet only you can reach will cause a lot of annoyance and waste class time. Make a space in your room where your students can grab manipulatives they may need for the activity or lesson.
Plus, you can encourage students to choose the right tools and discuss how some students may be using one type of manipulative to solve a word problem while others may use something different. They can also reach objects like dice, and game pieces easily without having to ask you!
I have another fantastic blog post about must-have manipulatives for your classroom right here.
Tip #4: Recoding Sheet for Centers
If you want to use math centers and games in your math classroom (which I suggest you do!) I would have a recording sheet for each game/center. These sheets help keep students accountable and allow you to check students’ work. I make sure each game or activity I create for my classroom has a recording sheet.
Recording sheets cut down on students “playing” games within 5 minutes or saying “I’m done” after not completing all of the word problems on the sheet.
Tip #5: Partner Rating System
This final tip is helpful if you assign a larger math project or have a math block full of games/small group work. First, ensure you give explicit instruction on how each of the centers/games works and how students should behave. We can not expect students to know the expectations if we do not teach them!
It is always a good idea to have groups rate their behavior/attitude and their partner’s behavior/attitude. Students learn best from their peers. Receiving feedback from them usually touches them a little more than when a teacher gives them behavior feedback.
Tips for Teaching Math
These are just a few tips for teaching math. They are not based on curriculum or specific strategies/concepts. Make your math block run a little smoother. Plus, get your students engaged and hold them accountable.
Bonus Tip For Teaching Math: Math Games For The Year!
It is always a good idea to incorporate some type of hands-on activity during math blocks. It gives students a little fun and you can often find some really fun activities or games that review concepts you’ve already taught. One example is my absolutely awesome Math Game Bundle!
It includes 45 games reviewing all of the topics covered in 5th grade! Plus, the games are very easy to understand allowing students to work pretty much independently! You can grab the 5th Grade Math Game Bundle here! Plus, I have the games within this bundle for sale individually as well!
Want to read the other math series blog posts? Click below to check them out!