Principles of outstanding maths lesson plans

Sometimes as teachers we can feel like we are using the same teaching ideas over and over again. I have put together some of my favourite principles for re-energising your maths teaching plans and daily classroom maths lesson plans to make your classroom buzz and come alive.

We all know students learn best by struggling with problems themselves. Indeed, students NEED time to be stumped by a maths problem – the more we as teachers step in to help solve the problem, the less a child learns. However, teachers still need to be involved in the guiding of the student through the problem as there are two types of “stuck” a student may be experiencing. The first is when the student is stumped by a maths problem solving task but is making positive progress towards a solution – using their key maths concepts. All the teacher need do in this situation is to give the student some positive reinforcement or maybe offer some more alternative routes to the solution.

The second type is when a student is unproductively stumped and is not making any progress whatsoever. In this case the teacher can help by re contextualising the problem, moving to an easier task or directing the student to related maths activities they could work on. The key is to remember to give students enough time to work through the problem and allow their perseverance to reward them.

Following on from this, the teacher should never be perceived as the “answer giver”. Most students and indeed, most adults, will happily forgo hard work if they can see a direct path to a solution to a particular problem. The “information age” we live in encourages this to a certain extent, with the internet providing a seemingly endless supply of answers with the click of one button. However, to gain a deep understanding of the fundamental maths concepts and to develop sound mental strategies for problem solving in the future, struggling with problems is really needed.

The teacher should be the “conductor” of the classroom if you will – directing and guiding the symphony, but not playing every instrument themselves.  The teacher should be the facilitator of learning, providing the students with all the maths resources they need to learn and develop their own solid knowledge base. There is no quick way to gain this – only through the process of failure and struggle can this be achieved. If you are stuck for new ideas on teaching maths, look no further than alearningplaceateachingplace for innovative and highly current maths lesson plans and ways of explaining maths concepts to your students. Search the site by grade or concept for detailed plans that are in line with the Australian curriculum.