Showing posts with label K-12 education. Show all posts
Showing posts with label K-12 education. Show all posts

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Challenging task of making math a fun-loving activity for students

Math has become a very challenging subject especially for tutors to teach. In this article, we discuss about the challenges and some innovative strategies that can be adopted to overcome these challenges.

In my previous blog; I tried to enlighten everyone about the benefits of teaching creatively to primary level students. In this blog; I will try to explain the importance of making math an interesting subject for students to learn. Remember the key to teaching small children is to think like a child, and come up with creative solutions for children. Hence; in order to get in-depth of this topic I will visualize the things I used to enjoy during my childhood days and come up with innovative solutions for building proper sense to the proceeding. So, let us start this amazing journey of self-realization. 

When I was a child my mother used to make me study math as if every calculation and every problem had an in-built magic in it. The key to finding the answer was to go through the problem carefully and understand the requirements and get the task completed. For example; I used to find retaining the math tables quite difficult. Since I was very good theory; it was natural to have a weakness in remembering numbers easily. I used to hate math like anything. But one day my mother shared a secret with me which changed my approach towards Math. I was finding it difficult to remember the tables of 9; and she told me that there is a magic in the table of 9. I was not convinced. She explained me that every time you multiple 9 with a number the addition of the both the digits will always come to 9. Let me give you an example. When you multiple 9 with 2 you get 18. When you add 1 + 8 it comes to 9. Similarly when you multiple 9 with 3 the product is 27 which adds to 9 i.e., 2 + 7 comes to 9. Likewise in the end it was very easy to learn the table. This was really an amazing experience for me. It was as if I had discovered something significant. Since I was very young it was natural to get excited with the discovery. Since that day I tried to enjoy solving math problems; and treated them as an opportunity to unveil a magical experience.

Now when I look back and remember those days, I feel that nowadays tutors do not consider these teaching techniques while explaining problems to students. They just try to explain the problem theoretically which is not good. I mean you should think from the perspective of the child. Normally any other subject is easier to teach except math because you cannot practically make the student visualize things like you can do in English and History by creating stories and making students interested. But there is a work around to this problem. Rather than seeing this as a problem, you should take this an opportunity to showcase your creativity in enhancing the knowledge of students. But I am yet to come across a break through math application which can make the teaching experience a blessing for children. 

Normally it is usually the same theoretical explanation of the problems which is then explained in the form of presentation when we speak about online tutoring. This does not help children. It makes their task even tougher. Because now they know the solution but they have to understand the steps/method used by the online tutor by themselves. In a lighter vein; this is like enticing a child with a chocolate in your hand without giving him the clear-cut explanation that they will have to reach at your height to get that chocolate. So the problem remains the same.

In addition to this, I have played a lot of math games like: Dress Up Math, Skater Math, Prime Landing and Quick Math among others. The purpose of these games is absolutely right, but these games cannot practically solve the problem of retaining the methods of calculation in the minds of children. This makes my point even more relevant. Even though through these games children can learn about math the sole objective of making them remember the methods of calculation is lost. What we are looking for is a long term solution rather than a quick-fix solution. 

Now you might be questioning me: if I had the answer to this problem; would I have read your blog? You are absolutely correct in that regards. Because normally online tutors do not have proper explanation to give for this question. But do not worry as I will try to find out a solution to this problem by the end of this blog. So you do not have to worry about wasting your precious time on reading this blog without getting the correct resolution for this problem. Being an online tutor makes it even harder to accept the facts that although technology has enhanced the e-learning courses to a great extent, there is still a lot of potential in terms of growth for math tutoring.

Let me shift my attention to the solution of the problem, rather than explaining the problem in greater detail. Like I explained earlier, treat math like magic. Always try to use creativity in depicting the course to the students. Because children do not like orthodox methods of teaching and that is well-known fact amongst tutors. If you are a tutor and do not accept this fact then it will be very difficult for you to understand the techniques; that I am going to discuss now. So if you do not agree with me stop reading the blog because you already are aware of the likes and dislikes of children; and there is no need to change your perception. But if you are in-sync with my ideas scroll down to see some of the basic techniques; that can create revolutionary changes in the teaching domain as far as math is concerned.

The methods that I am going to discuss are not new. They are already there to be seen but we have lost our innocence that a child has to understand these techniques that can work wonders for online tutors in near future:

  • Critical thinking: One of the basic elements which differentiate the teaching pattern in Math learning and English is that you do not have the scope for fictional work in Math like in English. Hence, it becomes very difficult to stimulate innovative strategies while teaching Math learning. Hence, it becomes very important to inculcate critical thinking amongst children at an early age. Now you might be wondering what exactly I mean by critical thinking. I will explain it with the help of an example. Imagine you are 6 years old and are having difficulty in solving a problem of division and need to get solution of dividing 250 by 5. Now right now it might seem a simple problem but if you are a 6 years old child it is very difficult to get instant solution to this problem. Remember we need to encourage children to use their mind creatively to get the desired solution. So in this case, we can ask the child to get their favorite comic books together. Assuming that the number of books are more than 100 ask the child to assume 1 comic book equals to 5 points and they need to count up to 250. Once they are done with the activity ask them to count the number of comic books that cumulate to the figure 250. The figure that they get i.e., 50 will be the solution to the problem. I know that this is a very lengthy process but it will enhance the creativity amongst children. They can then use different tools to get product of two numbers or divide two numbers to get the desired results.
  • Development of cognitive skills amongst children: I have already discussed in my previous blog that during the formative years of a child, it is very important to develop and enhance creativity in them. For that cognitive skills play a very important role. I know that you are aware of the definition of cognitive skills and are wondering how it is useful in math teaching? I will be explaining it in just a moment. But first of all let me explain the importance of cognitive skills development in child in my own words. Cognitive skills represent skills including attention, memory, processing and understanding language, solving problems and making decisions. Hence, it includes the overall development of a human brain at a very early age. Now there are two kinds of memory in a human brain: long term and short term/working memory. Long term memory is useful to recall information that has been stored in the past. While working memory/short term memory holds the information for immediate attention and helps in solving mental calculations. Hence, for math education both of them have equal importance.
Now the question is how to make children apply both memories in math calculation. This is a very important question and the answer is quite simple. Let me explain with the help of a practical example. Go back to the memory lane once again; and imagine that you are a 9 year old child. You are facing difficulty in solving a problem on fractions. For example; the problem is related to greater or lesser than sign and you are not sure which one of the two fractions is greater than the other one. The problem is determining which of these two fractions is greater than the other. The fractions are: 4/9 and 5/8. I know you are jumping of the chair and are saying this is a very simple problem. But if you imagine yourself in place of a 9 year old child; this can be a very complex problem. But do not worry. The solution is very easy. Ask the child to get 9 pieces of a chalk ask him to divide it into 4 parts. Then ask him to get another 8 more pieces of chalk. Again ask him to divide it into 5 parts. Once the activity gets over ask him which one of the two chalks has the greater pieces the answer would be solution to the problem. In this case it will be 5/8. Likewise; children can use their favorite objects to learn math in a very creative manner. This will not only make them use their working memory to get the activity done; but it will also help them to register the process in their long term memory. Hence, this activity will certainly help them to build their cognitive skills in a creative manner. That is the sole objective of my blog.

I would like to conclude this blog by stressing the points mentioned in this blog. It is very important to encourage children to use their brains creatively for Math education. Because without creative solutions there cannot be any innovation; and like I started my blog by mentioning a magical trick; the end also has to be magical. You can create this magical ending by contributing your enriching thoughts and ideas to make Math education a success in the coming years. 

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Friday, 3 August 2012

Five Thought-Provoking Ideas For Transforming K-12 Education to Another Level

The current education system has become stagnant and needs a tremendous boast to get the relevant interest of the students. Hence; in this article we have specified some innovative strategies to take K-12 education to another level. Click here to view the article.

Education has become a mere formality nowadays without any impetus on providing learning to students. We are seeing lots of e-learning courses being developed, but the sole purpose of education is lost. There is a need for an educational structure that can not only provide better learning opportunities to students, but also stimulate them to gain knowledge from the subjects. In order to fulfill this prophecy, there is a need for an educational mechanism that can transform the thinking of the students to another level.
Some of the ideas for radically transforming K-12 education include:
  • The transforming role of teachers: Teachers are more than just tutors in the lives of the students. They function more like mentors who are liable for making or breaking the career of the student. Hence; there is a need for an e-learning course which can not only provide interactive support to the children through one-on-one counseling, but also look after the academic progress of the student. Teachers should deliver the content in such a manner that students enjoy the learning process and get the intellectual knowledge thoroughly.
  • The evolving role of tests: In the traditional learning methods, teachers used to take tests of the students. But with the inception of e-learning courses things have changed dramatically. Now, no longer does a teacher take test of the student to evaluate their progress. It is done through online practice. Hence; there is a need for a practice management tool to be integrated in the e-learning courses such that students can practice basic problems to understand the topic. Interactive exercises should also be amalgamated in the e-learning courses so that they can make the learning process interactive and fun-loving.
  • Need for customized learning path for each student: It is very important to create customized learning patterns for students based on their intellectual capacity and understanding. The courses designed should follow the common core curriculum and state boards.
  • Guidance from experts from relevant field: In order to be a success, it is very important for an e-learning course to integrate expertise knowledge from relevant domain so that whenever, students get stuck they can get spontaneous response from the expert of that particular field. It should also be noted that there should only be one tutor per student so that the student can enjoy undivided attention from the expert.
  • Integration of images alongwith videos in the content: E-learning courses have to be designed in such a manner that students get interactive content including lots of images and videos; so that they can learn in a fun-filled environment. This kind of teaching pattern is especially important for primary level students as it makes the learning process interesting and interactive.
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