While we have been concentrating on developing our lesson plans for the Lesson Studies at the high school, we have begun to discuss the challenge of motivating students in the mathematics classroom. In class, the document that we glanced at was https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Ir1vjNiu8FnyoBiDD_jgEMC6S4DKAYnmigXOCQrj6iA/edit?usp=sharing
Where nine strategies for motivating students are discussed. The nine strategies are:
- Call attention to a void in students’ knowledge
- Show a sequential achievement
- Discover a pattern
- Present a challenge
- Entice the class with a “gee-whiz” mathematical result
- Indicate the usefulness of a topic
- Use recreational mathematics
- Tell a pertinent story
- Get students actively involved in justifying mathematical curiosities
In mathematics classrooms, motivating students can be a particularly difficult challenge. Students regularly struggle to see the point of what they are learning in their math classroom. Reading through this article prompted me to think about how I plan to motivate my students in my future classroom. Motivating students can have a ripple effect and subsequently help to work toward equity and access, as well as toward other pedagogical ideals we have previously discussed in this class.
The strategy that intrigues me the most is #8: Tell a pertinent story. In the description, it discusses solely using a story of historical events involving mathematics to motivate students. This strategy can be modified to creating lessons around these stories. For example, in the document is a link to a story about how Eratosthenes calculated the circumference of the earth. This could be modified to give students the information (or modified more so that the lesson would guide them less) that Eratosthenes had, ask them to make the calculations and deductions that Eratosthenes made themselves. This could incorporate the real world mathematics that can be lacking in the high school classroom, while simultaneously utilizing the eighth strategy of telling pertinent stories to motivate students. Going through the process of solving the problem gives students the opportunity to see the world as the historical figure(s) did— through a lens different than their own.
Based off of this document, I began to search for other articles that discuss different ways to motivate students in the mathematics classroom. From this search, I found a few articles from National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. One of the articles I discovered focuses on writing proofs using technology. As a high school student, I remember that writing proofs in geometry was one of the most tedious, and at the time, irrelevant tasks that I had encountered. I found this article interesting and relevant to the cause of motivating students in general because proof-writing gives rigor to mathematics. However, it is difficult for high school students to comprehend its usefulness— resulting in an unmotivated throng of students. This article works to make proofs more interesting for students by tying in technology. The link to the article: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1lHNLkkZ_Pav7Px5Rjsco2KZfSc9F-wgS/view?usp=sharing
Another article that I found examines motivating students through problem solving. The article focuses on creating opportunities for higher-order thinking to motivate students. This coincides with number four on the original list of ways to motivate students: Present a challenge. Many students have only experienced the traditional classroom where opportunities for higher-order thinking are few and far between. Higher-order thinking is challenging for students, and if a lesson is executed well, it can lead to motivating students. The link to the article: https://drive.google.com/file/d/13Ymn8oTFTY2cGIP-CPABbAw3xn9htvr3/view?usp=sharing