Discovering How to Learn Mathematics

15 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


SWBAT identify keys to learning math successfully

Big Idea

By reading and discussing articles on studying mathematics, students can better understand the skill set needed to be successful in math class.

Bell Work

20 minutes

I will ask for students to get out Math Study Skills Inventory and the How To Study Math.  The question on the board will be: "What surprised you about the inventory and why?"

While they are thinking, I will be taking attendance.  I also start putting together my seating chart.  If students have sat at the back of the room they will be requested/required to move closer to the front.

Once I have the seating chart organized I will have the students move into a horseshoe or circle.  I want students to see each other.  My students experience Socratic seminars in Communication Arts class, so this process is familiar to the students.  I begin asking the students the rules of discussion including how to deal with a student that talks too much and does not listen.  Once the norms are established the discussion begins.

I start the discussion by asking the first part of the question on the board.  I want deeper thought than just a list. Students will sometimes need time to begin talking. Try not to jump in too quickly.

If the conversation begins to dwindle some other prompts I will use are:

What did not surprise you?

Which item do you use?

What is the hardest on the list?

You do not have to get through all the prompts.  Many times the students will ask the questions. You are facilitating the discussion so don't talk too much you want the students to talk.

You want the conversation to last between 5-10 minutes. If the students are really hitting a point let them finish the point.

When done with the discussion I will ask the students "Why did I do this activity? Is it important for you?"

I do this activity because many students have not really studied for mathematics class in earlier classes. My goal is to promote college readiness and to motivate students to be open to getting help.

Discussion of Articles

10 minutes

I want students to read at least two articles from websites on how to study math. I gave students one article as homework (How to Study Math) and I choose another from the list of sites.  I am going to use Success in Math. This article is from St. Louis University.

I chose the first article because it covers all the components of a class (lesson, homework, getting help, tests). The second article is from a university in my state. Both articles are for undergraduate students but my class is a stepping stone for college. I also try to keep articles that are read in class shorter. 

In my class, I hand out copies of all the items we will use in class. I explain that we will be generating a list of skills that students can use to be successful.  This list can come from the articles, the Study Skills Inventory, or the students own beliefs.

I asked the students to read the first 2 section on Studying Math.  I gave them about 2 minutes than asked if the portion they read had any new ideas.

Articles help students validate their reasoning and help students who are afraid their opinion will be ignored.  Students will refer to the articles when they discuss the keys so it is not only the students opinion but an "experts" opinion.

The documents used for this activity give students some new ideas and will reinforce their thoughts. We think students know how to study, but from talking to students I have realized that they often do not.  I want students to discover new ideas and use old techniques to become active learners. I always hear "I can do the homework, but I can't do it on a test." Have the students really studied?

At the end of the year,  I ask students to give advice to students and the key advice is do the homework, get help, don't be afraid to ask questions. By having students review college level suggestions they can see that studying is important for learning mathematics and in some ways different from other courses. 


Identification of Key Skills

5 minutes

After the students finished looking at the articles. I asked students to give me the keys to success in mathematics.  I put their comments on the board. The students came up with the tools that are standard.  The unusual idea was using flashcards.  I am interested in seeing how the students will use flashcards in other ways beyond memorizing facts.

I have attached two examples of the students ideas.


Ending the Class and Prepping for Tomorrow.

5 minutes

At the end of the hour I ask students to write one item from our list they already do, one item they have tried but it did not work and one item they will work on this semester.  This will be their exit slip for class.

I will review these slips and return them to the students to put in a place that they can see often when doing mathematics.  By having a reminder about the items they are working on will help them when they begin to struggle.

I also talk about my 2nd key of class.  I have a sign that says "You will go further with I'll try". The I will try video explains what this means to me.

Before dismissing the students for the day, I also preview our next step in preparing for the class. I will explain that we will discuss mathematical practices.