5 Epic Ways to Make Math Relevant to High School Students

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Studies demonstrate that students who fail math are less likely to finish high school. This means high school math teachers can not only make the difference between a student’s success and failure in mathematics, but also in their secondary school education. To combat these trends teachers can employ specific strategies to increase student engagement.

math calculations on board

1. Provide a Practical Emphasis

One reason students struggle with math is that the usefulness of the formulas they’re learning is unclear. When math instruction emphasizes practical applications that students will use in their daily lives they will be more motivated to learn because they can see how the knowledge benefits them. Teachers could also pursue field trips to businesses that require regular use of math skills day to day, including ethical hackers, meteorologists, and fraud investigators.

2. Offer Choices

Students are more likely to feel engaged when they have control over what they focus on. Allowing students to select between activities and assignments can help motivate them because they are more likely to be focused on material that they have some interest in. Some students prefer working independently while others are partial to group work. Providing opportunities for students to choose their specific work tasks and their work dynamics will help ensure all students are comfortable with their classes. Additionally, blending traditional math exercises like those offered by Study.com’s math worksheets with practical exercises like those outlined above ensure full curriculum coverage whilst also promoting engagement.

3. Appeal to Different Learning Styles

School instruction tends to emphasize reading and requires students to sit for prolonged periods of time, but not all students excel with linguistic instruction. Using visual math to have students illustrate the solution to an equation with objects or working with money to perform financial transactions and then balance their till are ways to appeal to students who prefer kinesthetic learning. Providing math problems via audio recordings is a way to increase the appeal for auditory learners. Visual learners will appreciate the opportunity to refer to illustrations or create their own images as part of their work.

4. Emphasize Math Enjoyment

People are naturally more interested in things that they find fun. Incorporating activities that students enjoy can be a way of motivating them to complete tasks and increase their level of engagement. Teachers can use pop culture interests to create in-class challenges; for example, students could select baseball players they believe will have the best statistics over their season and teachers could use that as a platform to teach students about both statistics and odds. Identifying and incorporating student interests in the learning process will likely result in a higher level of student engagement and success.

5. Set Students Up To Succeed

When individuals believe they are going to fail their belief can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Teachers can promote success by identifying their students’ skill level and setting specific goals for each student to work towards so students aren’t expected to apply knowledge they don’t have. Instead of emphasizing grueling tests that will demand mastered skills teachers can focus on practical, structured assignments that enable students to develop their skills and knowledge to fulfill their course requirements.

School A to Z -Helping with high school maths
NSW public school teachers talk about how to help your child do well in maths, regardless of your own mathematical abilities, in this great video by School A to Z.

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Jessica Bayliss
Jessica Bayliss has worked with students and developed ed tech materials for over 15 years. She has taught in elementary schools and tutored students of all ages and has seen first-hand the lack of access to a quality education that many students face. As Vice President of Content for Study.com, Jessica and her team of instructors and subject matter experts help simplify life for teachers by creating lesson plans and other teaching resources so that they can focus on impacting students.

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