How to Use Math Teacher Tools Effectively

Teacher tools make daily classroom instruction an enjoyable experience for the math teacher and the students. As a seasoned instructor, you know that these tools engage the gifted learners but also encourage pattern recognition and critical thinking in the slower students. Unfortunately, it is possible to make mistakes when using these available tools, even with the best intentions. Do you know how to avoid common errors and instead use various manipulates or activities to their fullest advantages?


Understanding the Touch Math Concept for all it’s worth

In the K-2 classroom setting, the math teacher still works on the basic facts. An oldie but goodie, Touch Math relies on the tactile component to spur on student retention. Counting dots translate into touch points, which the child eventually associates with the number facts. From there, simple mathematical equations take on a form of reality that simple equations on a board cannot match. You might use this concept in a dual capacity within your classroom setting, especially if you have some youngsters who are still struggling with basic number recognition. These children will greatly benefit from having the ability to handle the numbers as well as the touch points. Advanced learners — those who are well familiar with numbers on sight — should use the touch points for solving subtraction and addition problems. Do not shy away from including several numbers into one equation. Allow the children to stretch their understanding of numbers to the maximum possible; in fact, challenge some of them in this way to expand their abilities to count higher than ever before.

Adding Manipulatives online and off

Do you bring manipulatives into your classroom? The touch points mentioned previously are just one example. You may have heard of another creative math teacher who has used dice with great success. Still other instructors swear by marbles, rocks and even building blocks. If you are dealing with technologically savvy children, why not introduce online manipulatives as well? You have the option of inviting a wealth of virtual teaching tools that supplement any curriculum. Matching numbers, recognizing patterns, creating patterns, and sorting numbers based on their relationships are just some of the activities the children may choose to engage in. Better yet, you have the capacity to custom-tailor the in-class availability of online manipulatives based on the academic intelligence of your students. Slower learners utilize manipulatives that reinforce the current section of the curriculum you are teaching; advanced students can jump ahead and test their mettle against up and coming concepts based on the lesson plan you just completed. No matter which online – or offline – manipulatives you choose, remember to avoid a one-size-fits-all approach to instruction; it will encourage learning in the same way that a more personalized approach allows for.

Honing Vocabulary

Mathematics has its own lingo. As a math teacher, you are well versed in the terminology; a youngster still struggling with the basic concepts may be scared off by the complexity of the language. A secondary facet of arithmetic lingo is the art of recognizing the terms that are hidden in the sentences of a word problem. Help your young learners understand that relationships mentioned in word problems translate into formulas. Practice by having students take turns devising simple word problems of their own. In addition, use blocks or other manipulative to illustrate these relationships. It is a common error to merely tackle the words but neglect the visual aids; for the learner who is more visually stimulated, this is a must-have for future success in the subject.

It is clear that the role of the math teacher is far more complex than merely teaching the subject along the guidelines set for by the school district’s curriculum. As a dedicated professional, you want to not only get the data across, but also inspire your students to take their understanding of arithmetic to the next level. Use readily available teacher tools to make it possible, even within the confines of a multi-ability classroom. Should you not check online for ways to supplement the hands-on manipulatives you might have been using for years? Just remember to individualize the usage of any teacher tools whenever possible.

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