Students Find Out, Without Realizing, Math can be Fun

Math can be fun!  At least that is what many of us saw and experienced in our commons room this week.  “Math games make learning math fun.  When we are having fun, we are more open to learning.  When we are having, fun, we want to keep doing whatever we are doing,” Greg at learning-with-math-games.com has to say.

Our head math teacher, TJ, brought a hands-on activity to teach estimating.  Many times our teachers hear ‘crickets’ , that silence we are met with when a new concept is introduced.  Often we get the ‘this is dumb’ exhale when our students don’t want to engage in an activity.  But this week we saw several packages of disposable cups bring an entire math class alive.

Often there is a struggle to offer a hands-on activity that multiple skill level students can all engage in all at once.  But TJ hit a homerun when he taught estimating with disposable cups.   The class began by students suggesting the different ways they could come up with to stack the cups to estimate the teacher’s height.  Each suggestion was given a name, for example the “Sam Method” which Sam suggested.  Students were then divided into method groups and they began experimenting to find:

1) if the stacking method would even work; and

2) if their estimated guess of the number of cups was even close to the teacher’s actual height.

Visit our Flickr Account – click on Sets and then Stacking Cups

There was teamwork, laughing and math skills all being taught in a cooperative method.  Ideas were exchanged and patience was exercised.  Before long, class was over and not one complaint had been heard.

One basis for the lesson was that estimation is a real life skill that we all use.  Sometimes foundations are skipped, or not referred back to as we plough through a book.  TJ thought it was an important enough skill to devote an entire teaching hour to a group of high school students.  Scholastic supports his choice by sighting estimation as a fundamental that is necessary.

There is also merit in having a teacher just want students to have a good time while revisiting a skill that might seem pretty basic.  Educators know, parents too, that keeping kids engaged is the best way to make the lessons memorable.  How many of our students will relate their cup stacking activity in the future???

Marian makes math fun for our younger students when she invites the older students in to play math games.  Nothing engages a student more than having a buddy.  This gives our older students a chance to mentor too.

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