14 Ways to Make Math Work for Students and Teachers

Math can carry a certain stigma — in the way we talk about it with each other, the way we talk about it with children, and the way we understand it ourselves. To some, it may feel elusive, selective, and inaccessible in a way that other school subjects are not. Children can approach mathematics with preconceived notions of their own abilities, often with the impression that their mathematical skills are limited, their ability to enjoy math is nonexistent, and that these skills and feelings are fixed.

When these situations arise, it’s not just a math teacher’s job to teach math, then, but to instill in children the very foundational belief that they are capable of math at all, and that they may even find joy in mathematics. It’s a tall task — we’re asking educators to tear down deeply rooted cultural understandings, and build entirely new frameworks for student relationships to numeracy in their place. But it’s a necessary task, and a potentially transformative one. If successful, it could change the way an entire generation of people understand themselves, look at potential career paths, and, eventually, work to solve problems on a national or global scale.

This journey begins in the classroom, in the ever-evolving relationship between student, teacher, content, and instruction. To shape this multidimensional relationship in a way that influences the way students think about math, we need to consider how we can make math work — how technology, instruction, student data, and engagement can be tweaked or refined to formulate an entirely new learning environment in the math classroom.

To get you started thinking about necessary changes, we’ve compiled a guide entitled: “K-12 Math Solved: 14 Ways Your Math Curriculum Should Work for Students and Teachers.” Download the full guide in the link below, or read on to discover a few of the strategies you can expect to find in the piece.

Foster Mathematical Thinking

Perhaps the most important information you’ll find in the guide is how to foster mathematical thinking across K-12 classrooms. This involves cultivating a space conducive to math positivity while also meeting the rigor of mathematical content standards and arming students with critical skills. A few of the strategies the guide outlines to meet this goal are:

  • Fuel student curiosity by using a blended instructional approach, where print and technology are combined
  • Employ student interactivity and engagement with hands-on and collaborative learning experiences to make math meaningful
  • Empower students to take ownership of learning via shared learning targets

Use Data to Inform Instruction

Data provides educators with valuable insights into student learning. It enables teachers to purposefully individualize instruction, thereby meeting student needs and continually fostering their personal interest in math. To meaningfully use data, the guide recommends teachers:

  • Utilize actionable formative assessment
  • Target precise knowledge gaps and known topic strengths

Individualize Instruction to Reach Every Learner

Individualizing instruction is key to changing the way students feel about math, and to providing them with the tools they need to succeed. But teachers can’t do this alone. They need the right programs and resources to help them effectively reach every student. Here are a few suggestions from the guide:

  • Use a math program that integrates intervention with the core program
  • Rely on learning tools that are truly adaptive, and periodically reassess the student to ensure that topics learned are also retained

Choose a System that Helps Teachers Own Instruction

Administrators and school leaders are key players here. When choosing a mathematics instructional program for their school or district, they should ensure that the system retains trust and control in the educator. The best programs will allow teachers to blend their intuition with powerful tools. When choosing a program that aligns with this need, the guide recommends educators look for:

  • Math programs with reliable content that teachers can modify to fit their teaching styles
  • Reliable content that can be joined with customizable tools
  • Programs that make it easy to integrate OER instruction

To download the full guide with all 14 ways to make math work, visit:

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