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Math Magic: Fostering Mathematical Thinking and Problem Solving

Finding the Math Magic

As the only way to learn Math is to do Math, mathematical thinking is important. To foster mathematical thinking and to teach problem solving, a teacher must create interest in the subject.

I start my class with these thoughts:

I hear, and I forget.

I see, and I remember.

I do, and I understand.

I reflect, and I learn.

A subject is not interesting or boring, it’s a teacher who makes it interesting or boring. If we love the subject, only then can we think about being good at it.

As a facilitator, I motivate my students to:

  • Make studying math a priority. I encourage my students to set aside time to work on math at the same time and in the same place everyday
  • Create good study habits
  • Read purposefully
  • Master one concept before moving on to the next
  • Do problems neatly and complete them
  • Have a plan to tackle each problem

Enabling Problem Solving through different Teaching approaches

  1. Play Volley ball, not Ping Pong: This helps activate students as learning resources for one another. They should not only look up to the teacher as a resource or solution. Confidence among the students can be built by peer-teaching.
  2. Activate the learning process: Teachers are enablers and activators of learning. Learners can build knowledge and understanding in response to opportunities provided by their teachers.
  3. Provide feedback that moves learners forward: Motivating students by giving feedback on their performance on a particular topic can help them progress even in problem areas.

Fun Games to explore Math Concepts

Engaging mathematical games is another way to encourage students to explore number combinations, place value, calculations, and other important mathematical concepts.This affords the opportunity for students to deepen their mathematical understanding and analytical thinking.

In my opinion, hands-on and interactive math games are a great way to make mathematical concepts clear, while keeping students engaged.

The best part about doing so is that it helps students to develop a positive attitude toward math, setting them up for a successful academic future.

Some fun and interesting games that can be played in a classroom could be successful in boosting student’s mathematical reasoning and critical thinking skills:

  1. Exit Ticket

Hand out slips of paper with a question or pose a problem. These slips are called Exit Tickets. Based on the lesson, you can decide what you’d like to find out about students’ learning at the end of the lesson. You can set a specific amount of time for students to complete the Exit Ticket. After the session, stand at the door to collect the tickets as students leave the classroom.

2. Round Robin

Always end the lesson on a note which makes the students confident about a topic. In this activity, learners sit in a circle and write what they have learnt and understood, and what they have found the most difficult. Students share their learning by doing Round Robin activity at the end of the chapter and put it on a ‘curiosity corner’ on the board. Then they share their learning by peer teaching in the classrooms. This technique is a good one to use for brainstorming or to elicit quick responses from students.


3. Asking Questions

As a teacher, the effort should be mainly directed towards making the classroom environment a friendly and inviting one. It shouldn’t foster dread or a fear of being made fun of in a student’s head. By asking the following questions after every lesson or session, teachers can make student’s confident to speak their mind and ask any question or doubts freely in front of the class.

Here are some questions you might want to reiterate after you teach a new concept-

  • Does anyone have the same answer but a different way to explain it?
  • Can you give us an example of…?
  • Can you convince us that that makes sense?
  • Does that always work?

Making our Students Mathematical Thinkers and not Mathematical Machines

Such activities and games will not only engage students, but also help students develop their skills and proficiency while supplementing lessons.

As a teacher, when I model creative engagement with mathematics, children come to see math as more than a simple exercise of facts, calculations and numericals. We should all aim to make our students mathematical thinkers and not mathematical machines.

Let us shape students into people who love solving problems creatively and apply those skills to solve problems in the real world.

What did you think of this wonderful activity by Shalini? Have you invented a game that helps to teach things in a fun way? Share with us in the comments or in an article like Shalini. Read another article by Shalini to make teaching multiplication fun with Bingo game, read the full article here –

Other articles that will make your math classroom fun –

Mathematical Creativity- Developing Life skills Embedded in Maths

Secondary Active Learning Resources from Cambridge Mathematics

Art in my Math Classroom

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Written by Shalini Chauhan

I want to connect with TOT. Looking forward to a great learning experience.
I believe it's not a SUBJECT which is boring or interesting, but it's a TEACHER who can make it boring or interesting.

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