I have taught all types of students and all different levels of high school math courses, one thing they all have in commons is that all students want to learn. They might not attend school every day or they may talk during instruction, these behaviors along with many others give the appearance that they do not want to learn, but they want to learn and we are responsible for figuring out the why behind the behavior and the how for fixing it. The math classroom needs to be a safe place where students like to go and where they feel empowered to learn.
Great, so how do we help students learn? Here are three strategies that have been used time and again successfully in the math classroom to create a strong learning environment.
Create an environment where failure is accepted and encouraged. Have your students do a few practice problems collaboratively at their table and then call on students to share their answers. By giving that time to work it out with others, students can feel more confident when called on to share their answers. The more our students talk math the more comfortable they will be with math. Correct the error problems are also a great resource for the math classroom. Students see that other students make mistakes and it builds their confidence when they can look at a problem and correct someone else’s mistake!
Do less for them so that they do more. Student collaboration and resourcefulness results in responsible, productive learners. Instead of answering a student’s straight forward computation question directly, ask leading questions to help guide students towards the correct answer. For example, a student asks “What is 4 times 1/2?”, the teacher can ask “What is 1/2 of 4?” Help them develop a conceptual understanding by rephrasing the question to help them make sense of it! Give your students a process to follow before asking you for help. Did you check your notes? Did you ask your neighbor? If we ask these questions enough they will begin to do these things before coming to us for help.
Clear expectations and directions. Chatter in the classroom is often the result of unclear expectations or directions. If students have been given exact, detailed, specific directions and their time is filled bell to bell with meaningful, engaging work it is hard for them to be off task. Verbalizing directions and then providing visual cues (written on the front board or on the PowerPoint slide) for students to reference as needed makes expectations clear and direct and easy to address when not being followed.
Thanks for taking time to check out mathclassroomresources.com! Below is a free set of 10 Correct the Error problems for you to use in your classroom as bell ringers or exit slips. Feel free to use this resource in your classroom and let us know how you like it!