Let’s face the fact: Maths is a nightmare for numerous children. Not everyone loves crunching numbers, and not all kids are delighted by the prospect of learning about the Pythagoras theorem or the exact value of Pi. There are times when students do well in English, Social Studies, etc., but their scores tend to falter when it comes to Maths.
However, it absolutely doesn’t have to be this way. Maths can gradually become one of the most exciting and intellectually stimulating subjects if it is taught well, and the infamous fear synonymous with the subject can slowly wane. Once you start getting all the answers right, absolutely nothing else tops that joy! Now that the classes have shifted online, Maths teachers must constantly come up with innovative and offbeat measures to get through to the kids. In this article, we explore eight such tips and tricks that will help you teach Maths to K12 kids, and who knows, it might even end up becoming your students’ favorite subject in no time!
So how can you ward off the kids’ worries and scissor out their inexplicable mathematical fear? Let us find out below:
1. Practical Framework of Teaching
Students quickly lose interest in learning a concept if it doesn’t apply to the real world. It is essential that you tell students how theoretical concepts can be applied within a pragmatic framework. Rote memorization doesn’t work in any subject, let alone a subject that focuses so heavily on analytical and quantitative skills. It is a good idea to start the lesson by describing how Maths is all around us and there is a lot more to the subject than mind-boggling algebraic equations and complex formulas.
For example, Maths acts as the very foundation of all construction work, and a lot of diagrams, budgets, angles, cost calculations, etc. need to be taken care of. In fact, you can encourage them to speak to any engineer or architect near their home, and understand how Maths is the building block of any construction activity. Another interesting example is how the subject takes the centre stage in sports: be it soccer, cricket, javelin, or sprinting. Since Mathematics strengthens cognitive, problem-solving, and quick-thinking abilities, it also helps massively on the sports ground where these abilities can make or break your day. As they learn the application of mathematical topics, their interest in the subject will gradually augment.
2. Breakdown Difficult Concepts
A deluge of information in one go can do more harm than good and backfire in the long run. Instead, you should pick small chunks of the subject and teach them to the class. Introducing too many concepts in rapid succession can confuse them and complicate matters, further making things difficult for both you and them. While all teachers, online or otherwise, have their own methods and tips for teaching, it is advisable that you start with simpler concepts first and when students get the hang of things, gradually move on to the more difficult parts. Additionally, since this is an online environment and students’ concentration wavers quite frequently, you may also want to call out their names, ask them questions and ideas, and increase the level of interaction in the class. This will, in turn, help other students as well, and they will pay more attention to you than earlier.
3. Maths Stories
This technique works the best for kids aged 6-10. Since storytelling is a sure-short way of cementing ideas and helping kids storage ideas for a long time, you can do some research before the class and then incorporate these stories into your teaching lesson. Some such fun but helpful books include One is a Snail, Ten is a Crab, Sir Cumference, The Grapes of Math, and Math Fables. Building up some stories yourself will be even better and help kids understand even the most difficult concepts quickly. Before you know it, they will have everything at their fingertips, and the progress will show on the scorecards as well.
4. Maths Week- Quizzes and Assignments
Maths can get really monotonous and challenging to keep up with if all you are doing is jumping from one exercise to the next. What students need, irrespective of the grade they are in is a plethora of engaging and interactive activities that can put their grey cells to the test and help consolidate their knowledge. This will also be an opportunity to group students to bring the best out of them, and teach them leadership, teamwork, and work delegation along the way.
This can be a fun exercise to dedicate each day of the week to different practices, such as discussing mathematicians on a specific day, finding out trivia around a particular theorem the other day, and so on. Not only will this break the usual rigmarole of classes, but it will also provide you a chance to take the backseat for a little while and help students unleash their true potential. It is also possible that a student who doesn’t speak up much in class does exceptionally well in these activities. Hence, there is something for everyone here.
5. Leverage Your Technological Resources
Now is the best time to utilize technology and make the most out of the resources at your disposal by integrating them into your lessons. Make it a practice to refer to online videos, quizzes, graphs, articles, and research papers frequently, and try and inculcate this practice amongst the students as well.
For instance, if you are teaching the tenth grade, you can set a 2-day deadline and ask them to find a research paper on linear equations or polynomials, which can then be shared with the class. Also, before each lesson, make sure that your whiteboard, online camera, microphone, etc. is working smoothly to terminate any faux pas while teaching. You can also use Wise to gather metrics and give students the best-in-class experience possible. While working on whiteboards, ensure that you use different markers to simplify the concepts and make it easier to remember things. Another suggestion is to ask open-ended questions to help students put their creative and cognitive muscles to work. Instead of simply listening to their answer, ask them the rationale behind it and why they think an alternate strategy could have solved the equation.
6. Clear Communication and Blueprint
This exercise will yield beneficial returns for both you and your students and works across all age groups. Before starting the week, chalk out a clear strategy and plan for the week. Which topics will you cover? Are you looking at any sub-topics? Which areas should the students prepare beforehand? A particular concept may take more time to cover, so students should be informed early so that they can plan their schedules accordingly.
If you are also asking for regular assignments, let them know where and how they should submit their work and the deadline that needs to be adhered to. It can sometimes be challenging to develop a grip over the students in a completely online scenario due to the lack of in-person interaction. To ensure that this situation doesn’t occur with you, you should let them know well in advance that they must be present regularly and speak in class. Whether they know a specific answer or not is not consequential; what is important is that they make an effort to understand a concept and participate in the proceedings.
7. Personalised Learning
Not all kids are the same, and some may require more attention and a personalized learning approach. It is quite possible that some students in your Maths class may have the same requirement, especially considering that students tend to face more roadblocks in Maths than any other subject. You may need to speak to some students’ parents to make sure that they practice at home and do not come to the class unprepared.
It is equally vital that you schedule extra classes with some kids in case they need a revision of the most complex topics. During these 1:1 video calls, you can pick out some sums you would like them to work on, refer to any extra help book that will polish their skills, and find more time to listen to their problems. It is nerve-racking for some students to ask questions in front of others due to social anxiety, but that can be gradually gotten rid of during these tailor-made lectures.
8. Feedback and Assessments
Teaching is only half of your job. You also need to keep track of your students’ progress and reward them graciously once they do well on complicated tests. This reward can come in the form of access to exclusive supplementary material, badges, certificates, a shoutout on your brand’s social media page, etc. On the other hand, if a student has not performed as per your expectations, you may want to discuss this with the parents and understand what went wrong. An excellent way to track the students’ progress is by assigning them timely homework and constantly encouraging them to do even better than they did the last time. The possibilities are endless.
Teaching math online can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to hinder your teaching methodology. As we just saw, with the availability of multiple technological tools and flexibility to mold lessons the way you want, teaching Maths to K12 kids is a task you can quickly ace. Rest assured, your students will not say, “I hate Maths!” ever again.