“I don’t get it”, “it’s too hard”, “they put me in maths 6 so they make us feel dumb”, “it’s boring”, “there are so many symbols; it’s confusing”, “it’s hard”. These were some of the responses my students of 9M6 gave me to the question “why is it that you don’t like maths?”. My aim this year is to inspire these kids; to have students excited to come to class and learning maths. It may be a tough assignment, but I have confidence that we can get there. Here is my plan:
1. Prove to them that they can do it. I speak of our class as a family. We don’t leave a brother or sister behind when it comes to a concept. If someone doesn’t understand something, everyone works with that student until they’ve got it. We succeed as a class, not as individuals.
2. Bridges Bucks (BB): I want students to be able to keep account of their achievements as well as motivate them to be involved. For students who complete their homework or something I deem worthy (e.g. having a go at explaining a concept to the class), they earn BB’s. At the end of the term I’ll bring in a bunch of treats that can be exchanged for their BB’s.
3. No textbooks: Textbooks have their strengths and weaknesses. Unfortunately they can often turn maths into simply a bunch of numbers, symbols and formula’s. Maths is all about solving meaningful problems, and rarely is anything in a textbook tangible and meaningful (especially for these kids!). It’s taking a lot more effort, but I am working solely off the syllabus, and creating my own stimulus for each concept involving anything from watching partial episodes of “The Biggest Loser” (subtraction of decimals, percentages), to shooting baskets and discovering ways to compare the results (statistics).
The year has started well, and 5 weeks in I have some students seeing me in the playground and being excited to come to maths. There are a few that still think maths is boring (they seem to think what I’m doing isn’t maths?!?!?!), but the good news is I have the rest of the year to get that through to them! My name is Ben, and I love maths!