I wonder how life would be if Math didn’t exist. How would you calculate the total amount to be paid after a major shopping haul, or estimate the time you have to binge watch on Netflix before you start getting ready for an event, or to figure out the exact amount of salt to put in the soup so that it doesn’t become too salty? From the Fibonacci numbers in the petals to skip counting by 5 to read time to the number of chocolates you give on your birthday to the massive discount you got on your expensive pair of shoes you purchased… Math is there… it is everywhere! And yet we know that many students find it difficult to get a grasp of this subject and struggle to include it in their life. Dyscalculia is a term used to describe specific learning disabilities that affect a child’s ability to understand, learn, and perform math and number-based operations.
Listed below are 5 strategies that will help educators teach Math effectively and manage Dyscalculia in the classroom:
1. Math as a Skill and not a Subject It is essential that we as educators change our perception towards Math. Focus should be on skill development, logical thinking, problem solving and trial and error. This perspective will make Math less intimidating and more relatable.
2. Focus on Functionality It is imperative to teach the real life application of the topics taught. Learning the formula of discount is not enough, teach them where and how to use it in real life. Teach Average though a game of cricket, how to do transaction while teaching money. Activity based learning gives a more hands on learning experience and makes the topics more relatable.
3. Prioritise Trial and Error Trial and error is the key to problem solving. Often students fear Math because they cannot arrive at the answer in the first attempt. According to Edward Thorndike, a psychology researcher, practicing the trial and error method aids learning by improving attentiveness, develop interest and problem solving attitude. It is beneficial in aiding abstract learning as well.
4. Use of Manipulatives Manipulatives like jodo blocks, counters, flashcards help the students to visualise the concepts. It makes learning fun and engaging. A set of jodo blocks can be used to teach various mathematical topics like operations, fractions, percentages, averages etc. This multisensory approach to teach math strengthens the base at a concrete level.
5. Word Problems The traditional approach of identifying the keywords in a word problem to figure out the mathematical operation to be used has its limitations. An alternative approach is to focus on the ‘given’ and ‘what I need to find’, this in turn will help students device ways to reach the solution. It will furthermore help them to improve their analytic skills, sequential learning and logical reasoning skills. At a concrete level, the child should be encouraged to draw the word problem and then device a strategy to reach a solution.
Author: Ms. Batool Ghadiyali Teaching Faculty – The Aditya Birla Integrated School