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Teaching Mathematics

Take some time to think about your mathematics lessons. Are your students engaged? Are your students motivated? Do you use effective questioning? Do you have high but realistic goals for your students?

You should always start a mathematics lesson by sharing the learning intentions in a way your students will understand. You should also tell your students how they can achieve those learning intentions.

A mathematics lesson should consist of the following (Monteleone, 2012)):

1. Counting (10 mins)

Every mathematics lesson should begin with a counting activity. Be creative and change the activities often. You might like to set up five different activities for the week and each group completes one activity each day. The aim is to get your students counting in fun and interactive ways. There are also many websites that you can use, such as:

2. Warm Up- Mental Computation (10 mins)

Following the counting activity, should be a warm up which motivates the students to begin mathematics. Ideally the warm up should include 2-3 activities which refer to a previous topic, today’s topic and the next topic in mathematics. The warm up activities are endless, including: songs, big books, poems, CDs, DVDs, movements e.g. getting the students to physically make a shape or get into groups of 4, flash cards, guess a number game, mystery bag and IWB files.

3. Whole Class Teaching – Explicit Teaching (10 mins)

This is where the teacher may introduce or revisit a concept via modelling or jointly work through a process with the students. The teacher needs to prompt, question and support the students as they reinforce, modify and extend their skills and understanding.

4. Group Work – Modelled, Guided, Independent

Modelled – This is when the teacher introduces the learning experience, demonstrates effective strategies and is explicit about the mathematics to be focussed on this lesson, while the students observe, model the strategies for themselves and explain their workings.

Guided Maths – This is where the teacher guides a small group of students as they think, talk and work their way through a mathematical experience. The teacher then provides a brief introduction and the students have an opportunity to choose strategies and materials they will use. The teacher poses questions to the students to determine their concept development and misunderstandings.

Independent Maths – This follows a guided maths session where students work individually or in groups with the teacher prompting and helping each student when needed. Students engage in independent mathematics directly related to the work they were doing in their small teaching group.

5. Reflection (10 mins)

The last ten minutes of the lesson should be dedicated to reflection which allows the students to consolidate their learning. The teacher needs to:

  • emphasise connections
  • encourage sharing of strategies
  • make the mathematics explicit
  • raise challenges
  • promote a language to talk about mathematics
  • encourage students to reflect on what they have learned and how they learned and what assisted them in their learning

Students may write in a journal or their mathematics books, the class may have a discussion or the students may answer questions or finish sentences such as ‘today I was a mathematician because…’, ‘in mathematics, I enjoyed…’ or ‘today in mathematics I found it difficult/easy to…’.

Below are two useful mathematics documents you might like to look at (click on them to make them larger).

2 thoughts on “Teaching Mathematics

  1. Wow that was unusual. I just wrote an really long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t show up. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again.
    Anyways, just wanted to say fantastic blog!


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