Encouraging involvement & reducing frustration

1. What is one thing I can do to get my students more involved in maths?

Sadly, it has become culturally acceptable to say something along the lines of:

I was terrible at maths so I hate it and never do it!

Interestingly, we rarely say the same about reading or writing (because we seem value those skills more than maths)! Their minds are like sponges, so let's make sure we're filling it with healthy attitudes and perspectives.

Our kids might not love maths, but they should at least see us enjoying maths.”

- Craig Barton, TES Maths Advisor

Our young people need to see us value, enjoy, and speak positively about maths. Even if you don't enjoy it, the best advice I can give you is to fake it! For their sake!

2. How can I reduce frustration for SEN kids in maths?

There is a reason "maths anxiety" exists. For some, the subject incurs a deep sense of failure and frustration that eventually turns into maths avoidance. I had that experience growing up, as I'm sure many readers have (read about my experiences here).

If we know our students find maths difficult, we can help alleviate this sense of failure by sparsely interleaving challenging maths problems amongst easier ones.

Here’s how it’s done:

Let’s say you have a student who has difficulties re-grouping and figuring out the meaning of X for addition problems.

Their learning objective (LO) is: To re-group and work out the meaning of X in addition problems.

Most problems in their assignment should be slightly easy for that child, but a small number of them should be challenging and address the learning objective.

Notice (below) there are four "challenge" problems that address the LO (highlighted in blue) for that student and six easier ones.

Because I know my student well, I know he/she will get at least six problems correct. I also make it clear that they can complete the assignment in any order, but they must have a go at solving all of them.

It doesn't really matter what level your students are at or what skills they are working on, as long as you "interleave" the challenging problems amongst easier ones. This is a form of scaffolding (see last week’s article: Part 2) where we gradually introduce new ideas to known ones.

Hopefully these ideas will help some of your reluctant learnersThanks again for reading and, as always, please get in touch if you have any further enquiries about any of the ideas talked about here!


How can you teach a struggling learner to retain their time tables?