While working with a group of kids, it can be hard to keep all of them engaged and attentive in a class. With all the distractions around, kids can be drawn away from classwork. Thus, educators should find alternative teaching techniques using creative ideas to keep students interested. When you notice that learners are starting to lose enthusiasm in class and get disengaged, you know it’s time to change your teaching approach.
A lesson should involve more than just a teacher dictating and students taking notes. Instead, kids should be able to give their views and solve math problems. Educators should make learning fun and motivational through creative ideas as when students are engaged in class, their results will also be better. Below are some creative ideas to help increase the motivation math learning requires and keep kids engaged in math classes.
Incorporate hands-on math
Hands-on math is a teaching technique based on the idea that kids need to touch and see what they are learning. The method helps kids build conceptual learning, which is integral to understanding math. Conceptual learning helps explain, justify, generate new ideas, as well as compare and contrast math concepts. Hands-on learning involves using math manipulatives and tools to teach math concepts. Thus, teachers can keep kids engaged as learning is made fun due to the use of simple tools like blocks. Notably, hands-on math is a great teaching technique for educators teaching mathematics to elementary students who are transitioning from concrete to abstract math concepts.
Utilize classroom technology
Classroom technology is any digital tool or software that enriches and supports learning. Technology has become a big part of the education system and it makes learning more efficient. Technological instruction tools like educational videos and PowerPoint presentations are some simple ways to keep students interested. It is no lie that the younger generation is fond of using technology. Hence, by introducing technological tools in class, you allow students to feel interested in learning. Technology also lets students to study math online and change the environment from their physical courses to remote studying.
Fill in any dead time
Dead time is any point where students are left with nothing to do. It can be the teacher setting up the PowerPoint presentations, handing out worksheets, or waiting for a video to load. Most students switch off and tune out through these brief windows, and it is difficult to get them back in the learning mood. Thus, students should be engaged even in such short periods. Teachers can give students brainstorming questions to discuss with their assigned peers, or you can also ask them to write what they have learned in the lesson and indicate the areas they find challenging if you are preparing to move on to new content.
Use math songs
Music helps improve memory and retention. While you listen to music, the body releases dopamine that helps increase ‘good feelings.’ These positive feelings are responsible for helping you memorize and recall information easily. Therefore, students can improve their focus and concentration time by incorporating music in math. Music reduces anxiety and stress in kids, which enhances their learning skills and concentration time. Music will also help break the boredom caused by the monotony of listening to the educator. Research studies have even shown that students who study while listening to music feel more relaxed.
Gamify math learning
Math games are engaging math activities that make learning fun. Unlike traditional learning techniques, gamified learning helps improve knowledge retention, increase learners’ motivation, and enhance student engagement as they can earn badges or points and take places in leaderboards. Since technology is the driving force behind education in the modern world, gamified learning has been made easy and educators can use math engagement strategies such as games online. Gamified learning is an efficient and time-saving approach as gamified online learning programs help create the games. The educator only selects the appropriate curriculum for their students and grants them access to the games.
Ask good questions
As an educator, you should ask engaging questions that lead to rich and engaging discussions rather than “yes” or “no” questions. Reasonable questions should be legitimate where the educator is not fishing for a correct answer but instead wants to hear their students’ thoughts and opinions. Teachers should also be equitable and allow learners to come up with questions of varying depth and complexity. After asking questions, listen to the answers given by learners and their explanations. Appreciate those with correct answers but also engage the rest and appreciate their efforts while explaining the correct answer.
Use project-based learning
Project-based learning is a teaching technique for involving students in designing, developing, and constructing hands-on solutions to different concepts. The method engages learners in activities that build their creative capacity to work through ill-structured problems. Students work in teams to identify a problem, devise potential solution paths to the problem, create a prototype of the solution, and then refine the solution depending on expert feedback. Commonly these problems should not be too complex but relatively simple and quick for students to connect with the real world. Project-based learning ensures that students are engaged in finding the best possible solution to a math problem.
A math workshop model is a teaching technique that incorporates direct instruction with hands-on learning and student-centered learning opportunities. The session starts with a mini-lesson delivered by a teacher followed by a large block of time geared towards small group learning and finalized by a summary of the entire class period. A math workshop aims at promoting differentiation, engagement, and collaborative learning. Mini-lessons aim to give learners an idea of what they are discussing with their peers through a video or simple explanations. The discussions happen in math stations where learners are assigned their learning partners to solve several problems. Then, the session is summarized into key learning points of the concept learned.
Get your students to move
Getting your students to move is a great engagement idea, especially for learners who struggle to sit still for an entire lesson. Moving around helps reduce pent-up energy by channeling it into learning activities. Teachers can get their students moving by asking to brainstorm answers on the whiteboard, getting kids to move to different sides based on what they think the correct answer is by taking a stand and using the inside-outside circles. The inside-outside circles involve students making two concentric circles and getting them to work on problems with the person in front or behind them.
Adding simple but meaningful strategies to learning helps create a stimulating and joyful learning environment. Educators should note that by choosing right questions and engaging learning strategies, they can grab their learners’ attention and help improve their performance. In addition, working with disabled children should not discourage educators from using creative ideas in their classrooms. The strategy a teacher decides to use should cover all the different types of engagement, which are behavioral, intellectual, physical, social, and emotional.