Teaching Math: The Best Learning Practice Essay
Learning math is not an easy task for many students, especially if they are of a young age. It is not always interesting to deal with numbers and develop various calculating activities to meet educational standards and get high grades. However, students have to learn mathematics as an obligatory part of the elementary school system. Therefore, to facilitate a learning process and raise students’ interest, teachers offer various practices and improve their understanding of children’s needs, abilities, and expectations. The examples introduced on video lessons show that teachers may cooperate with children in a variety of ways. Still, the main task is to involve students in a learning process by giving vivid examples, clear instructions, and options to choose from. In this paper, the attention to three teaching strategies, which are explicit teaching, developmental activities to support a diversity of levels, and reflection, will be discussed and explained through the prism of mathematics classes and teachers’ intentions to improve their classroom work.
Motivation and interest are the two crucial aspects of student education. It does not matter what subject has to be learned or what activities must be developed, teachers have to make sure that their students are ready and eager to participate in classroom activities. In both videos, teachers make use of explicit teaching as the main learning practice for their students to be offered. This type of learning aims at directing student attention towards certain subjects and topics in the already established learning environment. In math classes, it is not enough for teachers to provide students with an opportunity to learn new material and follow the given instructions (Selling, 2016). Explicit learning is used to make mathematical practices interesting to students through real-life representations, generalizations, problem-solving, and justifying (Selling, 2016). When students can use their own examples and explanations of the theoretical material given, it is easy for them to realize why all these tasks cannot be ignored, and what the essence of all these tasks is.
Another significant step in classroom learning is the attention to developmental activities in terms of which a diversity of levels and group work can be taken into consideration. Student learning and achievements depend directly on the teachers’ level of professionalism (Bayar, 2014). On the one hand, following the instructions and recognizing standards cannot be ignored in the classroom. On the other hand, students may easily get bored with all those requirements being set. In both videos, teachers underline the necessity to promote development activities and observe what students can do, want to do, and try to avoid. Sometimes, it is better to observe the work of students in groups or make them work individually and investigate their strengths and weaknesses. In schools, children of different backgrounds should cooperate, demonstrating their ability to use knowledge and their tolerance for other students’ mistakes. Teachers have to underline the importance of development and create the required environment to support but never offense or reproach a child.
Finally, the teachers from both videos agree that reflection has to be one of the main learning activities in the classroom. It helps not only to clarify what students learn but also focuses on the gaps that still exist. The possibility to reflect on the already gained experience and personal progress is the skill that has to be developed through teachers’ and students’ cooperation (Kiemer, Grőschner, Pehmer, & Seidel, 2015). In addition, reflection as a learning activity has a number of crucial benefits for students. First, they learn how to use the classroom material in real life. Second, sharing their thoughts, doubts, and ideas, students are able to comprehend the true importance of mathematics. Finally, students who are able to reflect on their activities demonstrate intentions to learn new information and participate in classroom activities. Therefore, the choice of this practice is not only a sign of a high-level professionalism of an educator, but an example of how teachers should respect and support their students.
To conclude, it is necessary to say that the offered videos help to realize how to improve mathematics classes and how to choose appropriate learning activities. The justification of this choice is based not only on the benefits students may gain in the classroom. The recognition of explicit learning, developmental activities, and reflection as the best practices to study math is explained by the possibility to focus on the merits and demerits of the subject and underline the importance of student participation. Though rules and plans cannot be ignored in teaching, educators should never forget that student motivation, interest, and achievement are the core values. Students may vary in their backgrounds, personal experiences, and skills. The task of teachers is to promote development, organize group projects, and reflect on the achievement made. Math can be one of the greatest subjects for students to deal with in elementary school, and explicit learning alone with group activities and reflections can help to achieve the best results in teaching practice.
Bayar, A. (2014). The components of effective professional development activities in terms of teachers’ perspective. International Online Journal of Educational Sciences, 6(2), 319-327.
Kiemer, K., Grőschner, A., Pehmer, A. K., & Seidel, T. (2015). Effects of a classroom discourse intervention on teachers’ practice and students’ motivation to learn mathematics and science. Learning and Instruction, 35, 94-103.
Selling, S. K. (2016). Making mathematical practices explicit in urban middle and high school mathematics classrooms. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 47(5), 505-551.
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Learning math is not an easy task for many students, especially if they are of a young age. It is not always interesting to deal with numbers and develop various […]