For Teachers

Advice on Improving your Elementary Math Instruction

By The Room 241 Team February 15, 2013

New methods for teaching mathematics to elementary students are proving effective. You can incorporate them into existing lesson plans. If you’re searching for ways to spruce up your math instruction techniques and provide students with a solid foundation in math, consider using these education tactics below.

Math teaching techniques to try

  1. Deconstruct. Split a concept into understandable chunks. An article published in the New York Times by David Boron suggests that students who have struggled with math can reverse their failures by breaking down problems into small steps. After mastery with smaller and easier calculations, a student can gain enough confidence to tackle the next level of mathematical comprehension.
  2. Use alternative assessment techniques: Outlined in the article “Alternative Assessment in Elementary School Mathematics” by Thomasina Adams, published by the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, unconventional ways of assessing math progress can improve math instruction. According to the article, traditional tests and letter grades can limit a teacher’s judgement of how well students are learning math concepts. Alternative assessments include student presentations, having students document mathematical investigations and learning processes, and teachers observing students figuring out how to solve a difficult math problem.
  3. Make it a social affair: In a 2010 report published in John Hopkins University’s Best Evidence Encyclopedia, “Educator’s Guide: What Works in Teaching Math?”, researchers discovered that programs focused on cooperative learning, classroom management and motivations programs proved far more effective at improving math scores than programs focused on new textbooks or innovative technology. How should math teachers apply this finding? Brainstorm ways for students to interact with math: have them practice mathematical concepts with flashcards; encourage students to assist fellow classmates.
  4. Use manipulatives: Help your students understand difficult concepts by giving them representative models they can touch and hold. A concept such as arithmetic can seem more approachable when a child adds or removes objects from their view as they conduct mathematical operations.

Never stop learning

Whether you’re a new teacher or a seasoned pro, you should always seek to refine your math instruction skills. New studies constantly reveal better techniques that helps elementary students understand mathematics.

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