Mathematics is an essential and fun subject. Levels of ability in mathematics for learners is a key indicator to the success of the education system in a country. All subjects should now embed mathematics as a matter of course. One of the reasons why Maths is frequently not embedded is down to the ability of the subject teacher themselves in the area of mathematics and their confidence to embed. This section will aim to give ideas that will help you to embed Mathematics into any subject area, and give you confidence along the way, by improving your personal mathematics skills.
For many learners who have had bad experiences in the Mathematics classroom in the past, the fact that they are then taught it again in Further Education Colleges IN THE SAME WAY is boring, unimaginative and downright soul destroying for the student! It is essential that we find new exciting ways of teaching mathematics and engaging the learner.
Elwes (2011) says "Mathematics is an extension of the English language with its own symbols, words and laws of grammar."
Mathematics is not just numbers, Mathematics is useful in everyday life, for example shopping (is it really a bargain?), planning trips (flights/hotels), designing clothes (cost/time/tessellation) and lots of other things. Anyway, it is just plain fun, it is about solving puzzles! Mathematics speaks in short sentences too! For example, in English: "We don't know what calculators or protractors cost, but we do know that the teacher bought 20 calculators and 15 protractors for a total cost of £100". But in Mathematics: 20c + 15p = 100.
Incorporating social media within the teaching strategies offers resources, help, mathematics tutorials, and other tools to assist in gaining mathematics skills! Homework can be given out to students using a forum or blog, students can post questions in the homework section, find answers and access math tutorials and of course parents can have a go too! Teachers can post either a challenge or a quote once a week or at any frequency they wish, to motivate and attract students' attention. Social media can be very addictive, the same idea as the students logging onto their personal facebook/twitter to check for updates. Teaching mathematics can be delivered in a fun way with interesting quotes, challenges, updates, puzzles or simply just a picture for students to ponder on! Once you have the students' attention, they will logon and contribute happily and comfortably!
However, how do we as teachers keep the students motivated and keep them logging onto the forum/blogs often? The game industry has studied human behaviour extensively and has figured out techniques that motivate us! The effect of applying some of these techniques and concepts into learning mathematics might have a huge impact in learning. You feel excited when you have been given a reward by completing a task. Imagine if learning mathematics was the same, a student who struggles with square numbers was not penalized for not getting Pythagoras’ Theorem! Instead of making student feel that he/she has failed, we made him/her feel proud to actually learn square numbers. The idea is for students will be rewarded with badges with every little thing they learnt, they will be kept motivated throughout the course with boundaries to push. OpenBadges are based on the similar idea as the ones awarded to Scouts/Rainbows/Swimming, they are a visual recognition that a student has mastered a specific skill or has completed a given task or challenge.
I have introduced Edmodo to all my students in different classes. Edmodo is a "social learning platform" website for teachers, students, and parents. It is marketed as the Facebook for schools. The idea is for students to communicate with other students and teachers outside the lessons. MathsMatrix was founded as an extended classroom for students in different classes. Students and teacher have been sharing intellectually stimulating Maths riddles, quizes and ideas! Students have also been asking for help with homework and being answered and discussed.
I have also used Educreations in one of my classes. Students have been using Educreations to create video tutorialsto share solutions for AS Maths past paper questions.
A problem solving task posted on the blog:
A quiz for the students to complete:
True or False?
1. When you add eleven to ten you get twenty-one.
2. Multiplying two by itself gives the same as adding two to itself.
3. When you subtract four from five you get the same as when you divide two by itself
4. Five divided by two is at least three.
5. Five multiplied by four is less than three multiplied by seven.
A form for the students to complete:
Google Docs can be used for collaborating online, it is great for collecting data for a statistics lesson. There are three dedicated articles that describe how to use google docs or other office software for teaching purposes. For example, a form was created for all the students to complete before the lesson. I used as a starter for one of my data collection lessons. I collected data on transport students use to get to school. It was fun, it was contextualised and students loved it!
My students have also been using Google Docs to create a presentation for CeBIT!
The Pythagorean Theorem is used extensively in designing and building structures, especially roofs.
Mathematics and Sports WebQuests Most people are familiar with sports rules, however, most people are not always aware of the important role that mathematics plays in sports. Webquest is a great way to embed mathematics in sports and this can be incorporated with social media too!
I think that mathematics has a lot to offer history, but also remember that history has got a lot to offer mathematics! Imagine students being taught pie charts in mathematics by plotting the numbers of dead from each country in World War 1 rather than a series of abstract and meaningless numbers ... The teacher could set the challenge up using blogs and students could do the pie chart using Educreations. They could share it, discuss it or comment on the pie charts done by other students.
Note: if you really do hate mathematics and hated it at school, do not say that to the students, it would not benefit anyone and would create instant negative atmosphere.
In line with the social media theme of the L2T project, the following link, Web 2.0 tools in the mathematics classroom has some excellent ideas for using social media to teach mathematics.
The impact on using social media in mathematics lessons have been very positive for my students. Students have said that they are more likely to take part in mathematical activities during their free time, and it is another form of support that students can get.
Khan Academy is an online learning tool, with a library of over 4,300 videos on everything from mathematics to physics and hundreds of skills to practice. Perhaps try to embed some of the lessons from Khan Academy and incorporate the lessons with the idea of gamification - the concept of badges.
I would highly recommend Edmodo because I am using it in my classrooms. I have also recently discovered Mangahigh, a games-based Maths teaching resources. Their games and challenges are 100% Maths, they are hard work, but students nevertheless enjoy them! I am looking forward to implement this as part of my revision strategy.
Blogs are easy to create but just because something is easy does not mean it will stick. So how does a teacher or her/his students find blogging success? Here are three resources that will hopefully provide you some additional tips:
WordPress: http://wordpress.com (free blogs, math capability)
Zoho Wiki: http://wiki.zoho.com (Has a built‐in equation editor)
http://www.teacherblogit.com/ (free blogs)
Elwes, R. (2011) The Maths Handbook: Everyday Maths Made Simple. London: Quercus.