How to Teach Math Without Worksheets

An engineer’s perspective on making a digital shift in the classroom.

GUEST COLUMN | by Marie Mérouze 

CREDIT Marbotic.pngWhen looking for alternative ways to teach math, avoiding the use of worksheets seems like it would be a simple task considering technology is constantly changing the learning environment.

E-books and typing are easily inserted into reading and writing lessons, but finding an innovative angle to teach math in a way that equates with the way students learn can prove to be more difficult.

Take it one step further to develop the most engaging lessons by using applications that pair both technology and hands-on activities.

Students are tired of completing worksheet after worksheet, just like you’re tired of assigning and grading them. And while some schools have minimized this problem with a no homework approach which prevents worksheets from being sent home, they are still used daily in classroom settings.

Although worksheets make lesson planning simple and are easily accessible, it’s time to get more creative during math lessons. To help, we’ve compiled three ways to put worksheets aside and reinforce math principles in a fun way.

Use educational technology

In today’s digital age, there are plenty of educational tech tools available and the number of apps and tech toys made for education is constantly growing.

Technology today can be educational while incorporating ways to make math fun for students. While seeking a fitting app or tool for your classroom use, it’s important to list out educational standards the tool or app must have.

Search for applications that increase engagement. They should be fun for the students, but they should not distract from the math lesson at hand. Combining technology with your lesson plans helps those visual learners. Take it one step further to develop the most engaging lessons by using applications that pair both technology and hands-on activities.

Include hands-on experiences

While technology is great, take a moment to look back through history. Before calculators were on every tech device, math problems were solved with an abacus. This tool made of columns of stones and beads representing units, while outdated shows the importance of using physical objects in math. Hands-on learning through physical objects gives kids a visual representation of numbers which allows them to be creative while learning basic addition and subtraction.

Visualize how difficult it is to teach someone a new game without being able to physically demonstrate how it is played. It would be easy to explain the rules, but people need hands-on demonstrations to fully understand how to play. Giving students a hands-on experience helps them understand and retain the basic rules of math.

Merge math with other subjects

You probably have a designated time to teach math, English, science, and so on. But, having a schedule does not mean it can only be taught during ‘math’ time.

Math can be incorporated with most subjects in order to help students obtain a deeper understanding of numbers. For example, include math into an English lesson by having students write and read story problems and even solve them. This not only allows students to work on their creative writing, but also combines reading and math, allowing students to practice multiple skills at once.

When seeking other ways to combine and punch-up lessons, try getting active. Use recess, or class time to play games like basketball or kickball, that encourage students to practice counting while keeping score. Using some class time for these activities gives students a creative way to practice math principles while taking a small break from the monotony of the classroom. You can insert math into games you already know or try creating your own, or even mix math into everyday activities, like counting off by 2s or 3s in line, or solving a quick addition or subtraction problem before entering a classroom.

While worksheets are still used in many classrooms, there are always creative ways to teach and reinforce math lessons. Revamping lesson plans with new activities for your students will not only renew their engagement but, you might also discover a new teaching method to incorporate in other subjects.

Remember to keep it simple but still challenge yourself to insert creativity and fun into lesson plans.

Marie Mérouze is the founder and CEO of Marbotic, an IoT startup focusing on the creating of connected devices for children. Marbotic has two flagship products: Smart Letters and Smart Numbers. Marie has her Masters in Engineering from Ecole Centrale Paris, an engineering graduate institution. She worked at an e-learning company for children for ten years before founding her own company.

One comment

  1. Content Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) is widespread in Europe (even mandatory in some countries). This relates to teaching a subject in a second non-native language – which students do not know – in order to teach the subject and language. This has repeatedly been shown to produce better knowledge of the subejct and of course the language.

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