Get Their Attention

Posted: June 4, 2015 in Uncategorized

Over the past few months I’ve been reading a book. I saw months because the school year was coming to an end and I was too exhausted to read, however, I did pick the book up again today. The book, How the Brain Learns Mathematics is by David A. Sousa and can be found here.

The book has been very eye opening and has gotten me to thinking about children. Many struggle with some concepts of mathematics, which has some arguing that we are trying to teach higher concepts too early. This book has pointed out to me that the human brain growth is not linear, but is in fact sporadic. What does that mean? Well, it means that students learn at different speeds.

I know that for many of you already knew that. So what can we do to help legislators understand this? Forcing them to take a test. . . . wait, that’s not what this post is about.

Today I started reading chapter 5, “Teaching Mathematics to the Preadolescent Brain”. Why only started? Because it got me thinking.

For those who teach ages 6-12, you know that many things are happening with kids this age. First, you notice that these kids look at their friends to know who they are and how they feel. They are connected to their emotions so much more than anything else. That’s because of the development of the brain. The book explains white matter and gray matter, but I won’t try to explain to you.

Here are some things to consider when teaching math (or any subject really) to students this age:

  • Standing at the front of the room and saying, “Today we are going to learn about . . . ” is going to pull up some fear with some students or get them to turn off because they already know about the topic or really don’t care. Instead, tell a story or capture their interest through their emotions. Remember that these students are on an emotions high, so use it to your advantage!
  • Do you stand at the front of the room and have the students facing the front all the time? Do they tune out. Then one day you play a game and they are really into the activity and participating? Well, it’s because it’s a change! Try change around your classroom on a regular basis. Get students up and out of their seats. When the students become comfortable and don’t see anything change, then they start to get bored. Remember, they look at media when outside of school to stimulate their minds, so yes, we do need to entertain to keep the students’ interests.
  • Lastly, we must make sure that students are getting a great mathematics experience at a young age. If they are not taught the foundations and the reasons why the math works, then students are going to forget the “tricks” and in turn start to turn away from math. Make sure teachers are teaching the WHY and not just the do in math. Need some help understanding the whys? Check out Nix the Tricks by Tina Cardone.

I hope to share more as I continue to read this book. Take the time to understand how kids work and you will see a difference in your classroom.

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