As a math teacher, you have your work cut out for you as the end of the school year approaches. Final exams are looming, and you want to make sure your students know every formula and concept that will appear on those tests.
But students already distracted by warm spring weather may lose interest in end-of-year cramming.
There’s a better way, says Michael Pillsbury, secondary math specialist for Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools in North Carolina. “This is not the time to refresh student memories about what they’ve learned so far this school year,” he says. “They should know what’s going on.”
Instead, he says, teachers can combine conceptual and procedural approaches to math, engaging students in challenges that will reinforce learning for the final exam and beyond. A few pointers:
1. Take a Conceptual Approach
Take a conceptual approach that builds on a year’s worth of learning. The end of the year is the time to roll out complicated but fun group challenges “layered with different standards,” Pillsbury says. For example, instead of asking students to memorize the formula for finding the area of a trapezoid, he would challenge them to show how the formula is constructed. “It’s understanding conceptually what’s going on with the math,” he says.
2. Dig Into “Apply”
Dig into the “Apply” feature of Discovery Education’s Math Techbook. This is where you’ll find engaging real-world problems that students can solve alone or in groups. Reinforce concepts with questions such as “how can wildlife experts use ratios to help endangered wombats?”
3. Start a Snowball Fight
In SOS: Snowball Fight, teachers encourage students to write and share ideas, creating a snowball by layering on concepts that they learn from each other.
4. Play a Guessing Game
Play a guessing game to help students develop background knowledge before beginning a new concept. In SOS: Can You Guess My 2-1-4, students are given two facts, one clue, and four pictures related to upcoming content and encouraged to analyze the pieces to make predictions.
5. Use Board Builder
Encourage students to use Discovery Education’s Board Builder feature to create review boards with video clips, interactive materials, text and other materials. Teachers can also create boards that serve as interactive starting points for review.
These strategies help students truly understand math concepts, instead of memorizing formulas. With true understanding, students will do better on tests, and are more likely to remember the concepts long after the final bell rings and summer vacation begins.