Imagine learning math with just a textbook and notebook in front of you. Don't you think math can be more interesting than just receiving direct instructions, group discussions, and doing worksheets? I am a 7th grade pre-algebra teacher in an urban school. I want to engage my students by making math lessons fun and memorable.
I am new to my current school. The first day I entered the classroom this summer, it was essentially empty. There were no supplies or math materials. Due to budget cut, I was only allowed to purchase some basic supplies like paper, filing folders, and stationery. When I checked with other math teachers, all I received were some old general math posters, algebra tiles, and pattern blocks. My school follows a block schedule. Each block lasts for about 83 minutes. It is impossible to expect the young people to sit through the whole block and still sustain their concentration! My daily lesson will usually consist of three to four activities that would allow the students to talk in pairs or small groups, come up to the write board to write, make presentations, or do individual work. My students need more to learn math. They need some fun stuff to stimulate their thinking and engage in the lesson.
For young people, what is more fun than playing? Card games and board games will help students learn math in a fun way. They may have competitions with a partner or in teams. They will win the games through collaboration and team work. How exciting! Meanwhile, their math skills will be enhanced. On the other hand, a lesson can be more comprehensive with the use of manipulatives. This is particularly helpful for students who are kinesthetic learners. It is also an effective strategy for tutorial and intervention when working with a small group of students. Hanging math posters will not only decorate the classroom but also serve as word wall, reading materials, and reminders. Some fun worksheets will keep those students who always finish their work early busy. These worksheets can be a challenge for the advanced students or a supplement for the basic learners.
Maximizing student learning is a priority in a classroom. When students are involved in the above activities, they will be easily engaged in their learning. Behavior problems can be minimized as they can earn their game time with their good performance. My students will greatly enjoy learning math with an activity-based approach to develop their thinking and problem solving skills while playing. Most importantly, they will no longer feel that math is boring or difficult and realize that math can be fun, easy, and relevant.
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