4 Effective Math Teaching Strategies

Students in the United States are struggling with math. According to the Nation’s Report Card from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), 2017 math scores for America’s fourth and eighth graders were unchanged from two years prior in 2015.

Although average scores have increased over longer periods of time, they are not where they should be today. Math scores among students in the U.S. continue to lag behind the scores of students in many industrialized countries.

Within the school system, teachers are the most important factor contributing to student achievement. Teachers who have mastered effective approaches and strategies in teaching mathematics can help increase students’ mathematical knowledge and improve math outcomes.

But what are some effective math teaching strategies that will help raise students’ understanding and math scores? This one-hour webinar from the Consortium on Reaching Excellence in Education (CORE) discusses four best practices in math instruction and related research based instructional strategies math teachers can use in their classrooms to improve student achievement.

Four Best Practices in Math Instruction

The four instructional strategies for teaching math that this webinar discusses are:

  • Providing explicit instruction
  • Encouraging student discourse
  • Building math vocabulary
  • Offering differentiated learning opportunities

More specifically, the webinar provides answers to the following questions around each of these four strategies.

  1. How do explicit instructional techniques apply to both direct and inquiry-based instruction in mathematics?
  2. Why is student discourse important in mathematics instruction and what are tips for generating meaningful discourse?
  3. Why is vocabulary important in math and what are research based instructional strategies math teachers can use to build students’ vocabulary?
  4. What are some easy-to-use differentiation techniques and strategies to improve student achievement in math?

The Importance of Learning Effective Approaches and Strategies in Teaching Mathematics

 This webinar also explores the critical role teachers play in student achievement. More specifically, it will answer the important question, “What is it about teaching that influences learning?” and will offer a deep-dive into research pointing to these two important teaching practices:

  1. Extending teaching explicitly to concepts and the connections among mathematical facts, procedures and ideas. The webinar explains the many ways in which this can be done, including:
    1. Discussing the mathematical meaning that underlies procedures
    2. Asking questions about the ways in which different strategies for solving problems are similar to or different from each other
    3. Reminding students of what the main point of the lesson is and how that fits within the current sequence of lessons
  2. Engaging students on a regular basis in grappling with an important mathematical idea that requires them to expend effort to make sense of and solve a problem that isn’t immediately apparent but the solution of which is within their reach.

Learn Effective Math Teaching Strategies Today

 Teachers, when empowered with effective instructional strategies for teaching math, can move the needle on student mathematics achievement. This webinar walks through four best practices in math instruction and offers ideas and sample lessons. Click the button below to watch the full webinar and download the presentation slides for a teaching strategies in mathematics PDF.

Video Transcript

Dean Ballard: Thank you Emily, and good afternoon everyone. Thank you for joining the … Thank you for joining the webinar everyone. Thank you, Emily. So today the essential questions that I wanted to explore today are how do explicit instructional techniques apply to both direct and inquiry-based instruction? Why is student discourse important and what are tips for generating meaningful discourse? Why is vocabulary important in math and what are strategies for building math vocabulary? And what are some easy to use differentiation techniques and how these help students?

Dean Ballard: And just by the way, just wanted to mention that I know that there are a lot more than just these four there’s more to good teaching in mathematics and just these four things. But I only have a one hour webinar here to work with and then I had to pick four things to talk about. So I chose these four, which are really important things.

Dean Ballard: Right, so let’s kick it off here, while we’re going through ideas and samples of lessons today and different slides, I want you to think about the following conclusions derived from a meta study of research around the question. What is it about teaching that influences learning?

Dean Ballard: According to the meta-analysis of research, Hiebert and Grouws concluded that two things make the biggest difference overall. And that teaching attends explicitly to concepts, to connections among mathematical facts, procedures, and ideas. And the students are regularly engaged in struggling or wrestling with important mathematical ideas. That students expend effort to make sense of mathematics, to figure something out that it’s not immediately apparent that students are solving problems that are within their reach.

Dean Ballard: Hiebert and Grouws further explained that attending explicitly to concepts means treating mathematical connections in an explicit and public way. And this can take many pedagogical forms including discussing the mathematical meaning that underlies procedures, asking questions about the ways in which different strategies for solving problems are similar to and different from each other, and reminding students that what the main point of the lesson is and how this point fits within the current sequence of lessons and ideas.

Dean Ballard: Hiebert and Grouws also state that both student centered and teacher centered approaches to instruction can provide targeted and structured activities in which students, with the teacher guidance grapple with challenging concepts and problems. In fact, providing sufficient boundaries and direction so that student learning is centered on important mathematical concepts does require some amount of teacher guidance.