Teaching Strategies that Work

Do you struggle to keep the attention of your students when teaching algebra and geometry? This is a common problem in schools all over the country. We have some ideas below to help you mix things up and make learning math more fun.

  1. Use videos that engage the students. YouTube can be an asset to any classroom when used effectively. Whether you are showing videos of cats doing funny things or guys dispelling myths, there are many ways you can incorporate videos into your learning environment.
  2. Add art to your lesson. Some students are visual learners. If they can use their creativity in the classroom to learn, they will catch on a lot easier.
  3. Help your students find their own personal math trainer. Students process and understand material in many ways because every brain is wired uniquely. Some of them are visual learners, but others learn through hands on experiences, while there are other students that can learn just through listening. There are digital tools now available that can be fully customized to each student and help them learn the material. Not only can they practice an unlimited amount of times, but they get feedback in real time.
  4. Make learning into a game. Bringing competition into the classroom through fun games is a wonderful way to teach students math vocabulary, formulas, and concepts. There are several types of games you can incorporate, including “Speed Match,” “Who Wants to be a Millionaire,” and “Jeopardy” types of games. Using a basic dice game is a very simple way to teach as well.
  5. Learn in the style of reality TV. Many middle and high school classes have used the scenarios of famous “survival of the fittest” types of shows to teach their students. In this type of game, the students must learn the material and use it to survive and help their team along the way. It is a great way to encourage working together as a team.
  6. Use examples from the real world. If students are having a problem understanding a formula, try to pull in an example from the real world that can help them visualize it.
  7. Make the students laugh. If you can make them laugh at the start of class, your students will be more likely to stay engaged throughout the entire class. Not only does laughing reduce stress, but it releases endorphins and makes the students feel good.
  8. Teach your students with word walls. Yes, that may sound elementary, but that is what most students went through elementary school with. Continuing it through middle school may help them feel more comfortable and retain the information better.

As you can see, there are many ways you can mix things up in your class to keep the attention of your students. Give some of these a try to see what works best in your classroom.

Making In-Class Reading Work for You

In my fourth year of teaching at the middle school, all the English teachers were given a ninety-minute block of teaching instead of the normal forty-five, so I began incorporating silent reading. It was a failure.

None of my students were avid readers, so they were not interested in sitting for ten to fifteen minutes without causing a disruption. Instead, they snuck their phones behind their books or read the same couple of pages again and again. They would lose their focus quickly and trouble would ensue.

I had to come up with a better way to make this work. I was finally able to turn silent reading time into something that was meaningful and beneficial to my students. This is how I did it.

I began reading at the same time the students were. This models the appropriate behavior for them by showing that reading can be an enjoyable choice for adults also. Yes, I know you have a thousand things to get done, but try to read when they do when you can.

Use some of the reading time for student conferences. Meet with a different student each day to discuss what they have been reading about. Make it a casual conversation instead of like a test.

Recommend books to the students on occasion. Tell them a little about books you have been reading to get them interested. You could take it a step further and have the students recommend books to their peers as well.

Show students that reading is its own reward. You don’t need to hire Milwaukee Limos to take the kids out for a spin when they have read their goal. Show them the relaxation and enjoyment of a good book and give them time to enjoy it.

There are many other things you can do to the environment to make it reader friendly as well. You want the entire classroom to be reader friendly.

The main thing is to keep trying. If one thing doesn’t work for your class, set it aside and try something different.

Bringing the Global World to Your Classroom

The world is becoming smaller. That’s a phrase that we hear when people talk about the degree of separation in the world these days and how we see stories about other places just like they were taking place in our own neighborhood. One of the most valuable things our students can learn currently is how to better understand the perspectives of others when they are different from their own.

One way of doing this is by encourage a more global perspective in the schools. Odds are, as the students grow up and get jobs, they will be working with people from all over the world. They need to understand more about how other cultures believe and do things, and how the environment they are in shapes their beliefs.

This process of thought is called globalization in education. There are several opportunities and programs that teachers can use to bring a more global perspective to their classroom. Here are a few ideas to make your class more global friendly and diverse.

First, bring in stories about people around the world. There are books about children all over the world for every age group. For the middle school crowd, my favorite is The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, a story of a boy working to improve his community.

When you travel, bring your own experiences into the class. Sharing your experiences with the students gives them a firsthand account of what it’s like in another country. Better yet, with older children, plan a trip for the class.

The last idea I will mention in this article is a pen pal program. This is not only a great way to have students practice another language, but it gives them the chance to find out about another culture. You can even pen pal with another teacher across the globe.

As you can see, there are many ways to make your classroom more global friendly. I’m sure you can come up with some of your own as well.