Math is old as time, but that doesn’t mean educators need to take dated approaches to teaching this centuries-old subject. With some creativity, teachers can tailor their math classes to modern classrooms. Courtney Flessner, of the podcast “Math and Other Things,” has plenty of excellent tips for teaching a relevant and engaging math lesson. Learn how you, too, can make modern math moves!
Step Outside the Box
Math doesn’t have to be all about numbers and worksheets. As Flessner’s podcast title suggests, it’s about other things as well. For example, a strong math curriculum provides plenty of chances to teach soft skills, such as collaboration and problem-solving. When children are able to talk through a math problem, they learn more than just a formula—they explore critical thinking, communication, and methods for building an argument.
Risk-taking is yet another example of the “other things” math can teach students. In math class, every day brings a new challenge, and students must take risks and understand it’s okay to make mistakes in order to truly understand the material. Children who engage with coursework begin to understand that failing at a new task isn’t the end—it’s simply a means to try again.
Advocate for Updated Materials
Since 2011, Indiana has no longer enforced a six-year cycle for math materials adoption. However, this creates a challenge for instructors who may be using outdated materials. According to Flessner, it’s crucial for educators to advocate for modern, research-based textbooks that are developmentally appropriate for the target age group.
While basic math principles may remain the same over the years, pedagogical approaches are always being updated. Older textbooks don’t always include the newest research and best ways to impart knowledge to students. What’s more, outdated textbooks may not take advantage of new technology available to educators, including video resources and learning labs. In short, advocating for updated materials is a step toward creating a modern math curriculum that promotes critical thinking, perseverance, and a deeper understanding of math.
Implement Big Math Ideas
Big Math Ideas offers educators resources for taking a mathematician’s approach to Indiana Academic Standards. These free resources are grouped into two categories: grade level and math concept progressions. No matter what type of math you teach, these documents can be instrumental in tailoring your curriculum. Big Math Ideas is an excellent way for teachers to better understand the “why” behind the lesson plan—what are you teaching, and why are you teaching it?
Cultivate a Passion for Learning
Too often, students don’t feel as passionate about STEM topics as they do about the arts and humanities. It’s math teachers’ job to change that. Luckily, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to get your students excited about coming to math class. Creating an engaging curriculum could be as simple as pulling up a music video to “find the math” in it or directing your students to an educational online game. Field trips, class discussions, and lessons on famous mathematicians are a few more ways to get kids passionate about numbers and problem-solving.
Why Is Math Modernization So Important?
Building a modern math curriculum is vital to student success and engagement for several reasons. For one, a good math class teaches more than just basic algebra. It gives children a chance to flex their critical thinking skills and better understand the world around them. Taking a modern approach to math teaching means more students engage with the material and plant the seeds of a passion for learning. What’s more, today’s teaching strategies focus on equitable education and never assume that a child just can’t do the math. While modern approaches might take some getting used to, they improve the learning experience for both students and educators in the long run.
Get More Insider Tips from KInL’s Math Specialists
Being a math teacher isn’t as easy as 1, 2, 3. Fortunately, Keep Indiana Learning has plenty of resources for educators to pick from. The Math Connect Network is a great way to share your expertise and network with other professionals in the meantime. Plus, Math Connect is always offering professional development opportunities! If that isn’t your cup of tea, be sure to check out Flessner’s podcast, “Math and Other Things,” for innovative tips on creating next semester’s curriculum.
Whatever an educator’s needs, Keep Indiana Learning strives to be a go-to resource. Reach out to our professional math specialists to talk about areas of improvement in your school, and we’ll design professional learning experiences for your teachers that cater to your specific needs.