The New York Times should write an article about teaching methods that eliminate the hierarchy in math. In each of my math classes, I had below-level, on-level and advanced students. But I thought there had to be a better way to teach math that leveled the playing field. I started using my interactive whiteboard to give my students more opportunities to practice foundational math skills, and I had great results.
I’ve always thought of learning math as climbing a ladder. You have to take it one step at a time, and you can’t miss a step. With this in mind, I started recognizing that rather than a lack of ability, some of my low achieving math students simply had a lack of proficiency with some of the basics, like remembering math facts or figuring out how to break down the steps in a multi-step word problem. With more explicit instruction, scaffolding and practice to solidify their skills, these students started achieving at higher levels and asking for more challenging problems. I learned that for every new math concept I teach, I need to break it down into the smallest steps possible and allow my students to practice and gain mastery at each of these levels. In so doing, they build their ability to think mathematically and solve complex problems one step at a time, and later they can transfer these competencies to solving different or more challenging problems.
The interactive whiteboard makes this process much more manageable. Students use it as a tool for practicing math skills and building fluency, which helps them to think more clearly later on when solving problems. I built a library of interactive activities that my students could work on either independently or collaboratively to practice the basics. They also watched animations of abstract concepts, such as dividing fractions, and these visual representations helped them to understand these processes more concretely and to remember formulas more easily. Also, I was able to record all of my lessons, either as a video or a PDF, and save it to my class website. Later, when my students were studying, they could access note from or a recording of a lesson to review what was taught.
This is how I used my IWB to help more students achieve in math. What are your tips for using your interactive whiteboard to promote higher achievement in math?