Math surrounds us. It is everywhere, even if we don’t realise it. I’m a big believer in teaching our students that mathematics is everywhere. If we provide our students with real world examples and provide reasoning for what we are teaching them and what they are learning, it gives the lesson substance and meaning for what we are doing in the classroom, it also makes it a little more fun!

In mathematics, try to incorporate real world examples and relate it to occupations. Set up a display in your classroom where mathematics can be found in our world and invite your students to find images and information to add to the display.

A list of some occupations that use mathematics:

Astronaut – velocity, time, temperature, diameter, distance …

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:

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).

I remember dreading writing out my multiplication tables in a square grid against the stop watch each morning in primary school and I don’t want my future students to have that same pit in their stomach because they are struggling with their multiplication tables.

After all, the daily multiplication square and stop watch approach wasn’t even a successful approach for me.

Learning needs to be fun and students should be engaged. Using different approaches allows all students to learn as their learning style is taken into account.

Here are some ideas I have come up with and have seen work well in classes to help students learn their multiplication tables in a fun manner:

1. Identify the patterns in a hundred chart.

2. Skip counting as a class.

3. Create a rap song or poem as part of a homework activity or class activity about a multiplication table.

4. Sing the multiplication table together as a class.

5. Create a game show as a class where the teacher acts as a host and there are rotating pairs of students with a buzzer to answer a multiplication sum.

6. Multiplication bingo.

7. Have the students line up in pairs and choose one student to stand at the front of the line (provide them with an answer sheet). The student at the front calls out a multiplication sum and the first of the pair to state the correct answer returns to the back of the line and the other student sits out and watches. This continues until there is one students left.

8. Students work in pairs to test each other.

9. Focus on particular multiplication sums each week. For example 6×3 = 18, 6×5=30 and 6×6=36 and make it a challenge that the students remember those three. The teacher may ask a student at random one of those multiplication sums.

10. Focus on a multiplication table for a specified amount of weeks within the school year. All maths warm ups and homework activities would pertain to that specific multiplication table. For example, weeks 1-3 of term 1 may be decicated to the multiplication table of 3.

11. Dedicate a part of the classroom to the multiplication table that is being focussed on.

12. Ask the students to create a powerpoint slide of the multiplication table including images and voice recording.

13. The students may create a poster for the multiplication table which can be displayed in the classroom.

14. Include the multiplication table in their homework each week.

15. Use a fun multiplication CD and have the students sing along.

16. Record your voice reading the multiplication tables on your class blog or on a CD for students to listen to as part of their homework.

17. Have the students record themselves onto a CD.

Be creative and make learning fun!

What strategies do you use to teach multiplication tables?

There are a lot of teachers who dislike teaching maths and it is often the least liked subject in the classroom by many students. Teachers need to be enthusiastic about every subject – it will encourage your students to also be enthusiastic – even about maths.

Here are ten tips that I have come up with to make maths more enjoyable and successful for students (and teachers!).

1. Relate it to the Real World

Learning should be made relevant to the students and a good start to a maths lesson is to explain how/where/why the mathematics concept is used in the real world. For example; before teaching perimeter/area brainstorm which occupations would need to calculate the perimeter/area.

This is a great video clip to show your class which explains that mathematics/numeracy is everywhere:

Make the mathematical concept relevant to their world. Would a student rather work out how many apples fit into a box or how many handballs would fit in the school sport box? Better yet, ask them to create their own.

2. Make Mathematics Enjoyable

Be creative and try to come up with lessons that enables students to learn mathematical concepts without even realising it. Get the students involved and moving around.

Examples:

Multiplication Table CD that the students sing along to instead of multiplication table drills

Allow the students to walk around the classroom choosing objects to practise hefting with a partner

Call multiplication and division the ‘king’ and ‘queen’

3. Use ICT

Students love ICT so it would make sense to embrace it within mathematics.

Use your interactive whiteboard (IWB). There are so many math resources on your IWB that your students would love.

Take photos of students working on mathematics and ask them to arrange the photos in a procedure format including their captions as steps to complete the mathematical problem

Use google earth images to outline perimeters and areas

Concrete materials are not just for the younger primary years. They should be used whenever the students need them, whether that be in year 1 or year 6.

Mathematical concrete materials can be amazing in helping the students to understand a concept.

There are so many materials you can use;

Base 10 blocks

Geo strips

Pattern blocks

Joining cubes

Rods (great for fraction work)

Geo boards

Dice

Blank cubes

Fraction pieces (or create your own)

Masking tape to create a metre square on the floor

5. Dedicate a Space in your Classroom Promoting Maths

Students love a decorated classroom, a lot of teachers decorate their classroom in amazing ways. Ensure you have a space in your classroom dedicated to maths and ensure it is in a prominent space in the class where students can see it.

Put up posters promoting maths

Display the students’ work

Put up photos of students working on maths

6. Group Work

Allow students to work in groups in mathematics lessons. You may devise the groups into ability levels at times or mix the groups so that the students who have a greater understanding of the mathematical concept are able to help those who are struggling to understand.

See a previous post regarding group work.

7. Warm Up Games

Every mathematics lesson should begin with a warm up activity. It could be counting by 2’s, 3’s, counting odd numbers, stating a multiplication table or a short mathematics game.

There are many games available, find ideas on the internet or in countless books.

8. Praise

Praise students when they try their best in every subject. It encourages them, gives them confidence and a positive outlook.

9. Closure

At the end of each lesson there should be a closure to reinforce what the students have learnt that lesson.

For example;

Put sentence starters on the board and allow the students to choose one and complete the sentence (Today I was a mathematician because…. I learnt that …. I found it difficult to …. I need to practise …. )

Brainstorm what the students have learnt on the board

Ask some students to share their work with the class

Ask the students to write one thing they learnt today

10. Relevant Math Homework

This is relevant to all subjects; ensure the homework given to the students that week correlates with the work in class. This will help to reinforce the concepts learnt in class and the teacher is also able to gain an insight into the students’ understanding.

Do you have any more tips?

What do you do to make maths fun in your classroom?

I’m Ashley Azzopardi, a primary school teacher in Sydney, Australia and I’m passionate about teaching and wellbeing. This is my space where I share my thoughts and what is happening in my classroom. I have taught Year 5 and I currently teach Year 2. Thanks for dropping by! Join in on the conversation – your comments are very welcome and appreciated!

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