Traditionally, maths had been taught in a conventional setting where teachers lecture the topic while students passively copy notes, and complete related exercises. They usually use short lessons with explanations and examples, followed by a request for students to read the textbook and answer problems. Teachers track their students' progress through quizzes and tests, which can easily be assessed.
It seems to be easier to teach maths to primary school students since teachers relate mathematical topics and concepts to real-life applications. They also give practical tasks which are more engaging and memorable, helping students have fun, while developing more understanding of the concepts being presented.
Maths in high school is different
Mathematics is a fundamental part of the school curriculum, especially in Australia, but it's also a unique subject since it's associated with other sciences. In fact, mathematics is used in every facet of life, but many high school students often dislike it because they believe that it's a complicated subject to learn, with of a lot of the concepts taught being useless.
We need to understand that learning maths is influenced by many factors, both cognitive and affective. Teachers also find it much harder to teach maths in high schools, as the real life applications of complex mathematics takes a long time to explore. Classes are simply not given enough time to develop in depth understanding through practical exploration. Therefore, students cannot see the connection of specific math topics to their daily lives.
Students find it difficult to consolidate their knowledge when they are taught skills as individual entities, never being shown how the individual parts work together in a meaningful way. In other words, maths is taught as a skills-based subject, without enough opportunities for integration or application. High school teachers are hard-pressed due to their constricted schedules, and they often rush through their lessons without checking if their students have grasped the concepts and understanding, not just the skills. This situation often leads to frustration and some students, especially those left behind, will not be achieve the results they are looking for.
How to make teaching maths easier
It is essential for teachers to collaborate with their colleagues and devise a better approach that they can utilise in their classroom. Something worth trying is called "inquiry-based learning," in which students are required to actively engage in problem-solving and discussion with their peers. This makes the process more interesting and practical for students, thus providing better learning gains.
Teachers must also be able to summarise and conceptualise the skills and knowledge required to tackle certain topics or concepts. Students can then be given problem solving application questions which incorporate a range of skills and concepts to practice integration and consolidate their understanding. It is advisable for teachers to give tests or assessments more often since this can gauge their students' progress and learning.
Overall, teaching maths can be quite challenging, but teachers can use creative and unconventional methods to make learning more engaging, especially if they're teaching high school students who struggle with mathematics. Alongside the difficulty of teaching maths comes the arduous task of learning it. If your child is struggling, it could be a good idea to get in touch with Maths Tutors Melbourne to learn about tuition options.
Making errors and trying new strategies are a natural part of the learning process in maths. However, if kids have an underdeveloped understanding of a certain concept in maths, like those in fractions, this may impede their progress.
Usually, misconceptions will not be corrected unless teachers and parents explicitly address them by instruction. Teachers need to be aware of misconceptions of their classes and individuals and then find an effective way to address them. Identifying misconceptions will require a purposeful diagnostic assessment and careful observation of what their students are thinking.
Common maths misconceptions in fractions
We understand that most kids find fractions particularly challenging. The main reason for this is that they compare fractions from the common kinds of numbers they often worked with. They often forget how fractions work and how to work with them effectively.
In fact, most misconceptions in fractions come from the fact that kids try to draw associations with natural numbers. Natural numbers are those positive whole numbers like 1,2,4,12,110,255,670 etc. These are the kinds of numbers that most of our kids encountered from a young age and they spend a significant amount of time in early education learning about these numbers.
Students often forget how to add, subtract, multiply and divide fractions. There could be a few solutions to this dilemma:
Misconceptions in adding or subtraction fractions
A common mistake that kids often make is that they forget to find a common denominator before adding or subtracting fractions. In fact, they tend to treat the numerators and denominators as whole numbers.
Misconception: 2/3 + 5/6 = 7/9
The correct way is to add fractions by creating a common denominator and then adding the numerators. The right way of adding these fractions is written below.
Correct working: 2/3 + 5/6 = 4/6 + 5/6 with a total of 9/6 = 3/2 or 1 and 1/2
The same method applies to subtracting fractions. Many children make the mistake of subtracting the denominator as they would the numerators just like the example below:
Misconception: 5/7 – 1/4 = 4/3
You could address this misconception by finding the common denominator before subtracting the numerators, then just copying the common denominator to arrive at a solution just like below:
Correct Working: 5/7 - 1/4 = 20/28 - 7/28 to arrive at the solution of 13/28
Overall, this misconception needs to be continuously addressed and practiced so kids will know how to correctly add and subtract fractions. Now that school is running as normal in Victoria again, teachers will be able to more accurately address misconceptions within their classrooms.