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Article Summary: "When teachers stand up at the chalk board and are attempting to convey math problems to a class room full of 20-30 students, although the teacher gets what is going on you can guarantee that a good part of the class is not even listening."

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How Math Teachers can make learning more Hands-on

When teachers stand up at the chalk board and are attempting to convey math problems to a class room full of 20-30 students, although the teacher gets what is going on you can guarantee that a good part of the class is not even listening. For starters math is boring to most and when students hear the teacher mention math their brain goes into an immediate shut down mode. Factor in other issues such as: the class right before lunch where you have a classroom full of kids who are watching every second tick by so they can eat. Those students are at a definite disadvantage to begin with. It is very important, especially in the introductory stages of math that teachers learn to be more "hands on." They need to develop a very powerful approach, one that is interesting and fun, one that the students enjoy and look forward to.

It is unlikely that students are going to walk away with the knowledge that they need for future math success simply by an instructor standing at the board and speaking. That is not going to fly when it comes to math. The "hands on" approach involves students in really doing mathematics - experimenting first-hand with physical objects in the environment and having concrete experience before learning abstract mathematical concepts. Students, in order to be successful, must focus on the core concepts and critical thinking processes needed for students to create and re-create mathematical concepts and relationships in their own minds.

Teachers must begin to select mathematical tasks that engage students' interests and intellect and providing opportunities to deepen their understanding of the mathematics being studied and its applications. They also must develop classroom teachings that promote investigation and growth in mathematical ideas while using and teaching students to use technology and other tools to pursue mathematical investigations. Instructors must help students seek connections to previous and developing knowledge and also guide individual, small-group, and whole-class work. Knowing mathematics means being able to use it in purposeful ways. To learn mathematics, students must be involved in exploring and thinking rather than only in rote learning of rules and procedures. Mathematics learning is not a spectator sport but it is a concept that requires "hands on" teaching where experience enables students are able to construct personal knowledge derived from meaningful experiences. Only then will students be able to retain and use what they have learned. Teachers must learn a new role to offer students the help that makes sense of mathematics and allows them to use it as a tool for reasoning and problem solving.

It is now left up to teachers and educators to redefine the meaning of thinking mathematically. Learning more advanced math isn't possible without first mastering traditional pencil-and-paper arithmetic. Then each student must always "work collaboratively" with other students in a small group, this helps to prepare kids for the way teams function in modern business. Students should be encouraged to practice the ongoing use of hands-on tools such as various models and calculators. The goal is to achieve a complete understanding rather than memorization. Teachers must be ready and equipped to prepare and deliver instruction using new approaches which include technology, and hands-on and collaborative teaching. Enabling students to benefit from available tools goes beyond the availability of technology in school systems. Hands-on training is critical to teachers' willingness to implement new instructional practices into the classroom. Theory based teaching typically results in little skills and negligible transfer to classroom practice thus limiting successful learning. This must lead to a level of comfort in using hardware and software systems, which enables the teachers to utilize the technology integrated within the scope of the curriculum and subject matter they are teaching, and to be able to make decisions for varying situations.