Math. For some students, they take to it like a duck to water, and for others, it is an intense trial to overcome. Math is definitely up there as one of the most intimidating subjects. This is a reputation that it’s unlikely to live down any time soon!
For those that find the subject too challenging, they’re most likely going to disengage. So, for teachers that are willing to step up to the challenge of helping students that are really struggling with math, it takes effort, patience, and a dynamic strategy.
Math | Make it a Good Experience
While some students thrive on solving numerical problems, others can be seen using their hands to keep their heads from exploding. When a student stumbles, they often feel helpless and want to give up.
Teachers can prevent this from happening by reframing a students’ experience from that of math warfare, in an environment of stress and competition, to math teamwork, where the class is engaged in fun puzzles. Use games and other forms of entertainment to draw their attention. Many students will be visual learners, so videos that demonstrate and explain concepts can be particularly helpful.
It’s vital that you use positive reinforcement to keep them motivated, their spirits high, and build their resilience to making mistakes.
Create a Strong Foundation
Before introducing a new math concept, don’t assume everyone has internalised the previous lessons. Do some warmup exercises and refresh their memories. A student that is still struggling with the basics will not make sense of any higher mathematics.
This assessment stage helps you identify how much of your class is keeping up with the curriculum. For those that are lagging behind, you can arrange special classes or consider a power session with everyone to re-run a previous topic before moving forward.
Provide Extra Resources
There are many ways for students to study math outside of the classroom. In fact, you could argue that there’s never been a better time than now with the number of resources available.
Past papers are a great way for students to build up confidence as exams loom closer. They can familiarise themselves with the structure of the test and the types of questions asked.
Practice exams provide students with the exam experience. Within a set time limit, they can work through the exercises with the added benefit of seeing all of the results immediately after. They can then identify areas that they need to improve on and focus on them.
For visual learners, Youtube has many videos that do a terrific job of teaching complex concepts. If you do the research before a class, you can share a playlist of videos to help the students with their revision.
Revision Village is a very useful resource for those studying IB math. After identifying areas a student needs to work on, they can use the IB math Questionbank section to revise. Here, exam questions are broken down by topic, sub-topic and difficulty. The student can also see video solutions to the problems, so if they are struggling, the answer and the explanation is right there to help them.