Recently, we have been discussing ways to make students more motivated in math because for many interest is lost between elementary school and high school. This interest is generally not regained until college or beyond. Janelle Cox wrote an article, How to Motivate Students to Love Math, that teaches teachers how to get students to be more interested.
One of the first things she discusses is building on skills that students have already mastered. Whether this be something as simple as addition or as complex as the Pythagorean Theorem, letting the student use knowledge they feel comfortable with will make them less frustrated and more likely to remember the new connections they make. Then, work towards an achievable and personalized goal. When students meet one goal, they are more likely to strive for more and also more difficult ones. So, be sure the first goal they set is somewhat short-term and achievable–you may have to help them with this. Incorporate things that pertain to their life into the lesson such as real world examples and applications as well as the use of technology. Some of this may mean you have to do a little research and learn the latest technology and websites for math, but it will benefit your students tremendously.
And finally, make math interesting! It does not always have to be lecture and learn. Use music, games, and be enthusiastic when teaching and discussing math. Students pick up on your tone, so if you are bored teaching and do not seem to have a passion for the content, they will not be interested either. One more way to intrigue students would be with a magical math problem. This means finding math in the real world that might give an unexpected or interesting result. As we have talked about in class and the article talks about, the birthday problem. This problem talks about the probability of two students in the class having the same birthday. Proving this in your own classroom may be the one thing that sparks an interest in math for your students.
While it may be difficult to be creative with teaching every lesson, incorporating as many motivational lessons as you can will both show your students you care and keep them engaged. These ideas and tips will help create a more effective teacher and get students more interested in math and it’s applications.