Mathematics for disengaged students

Hi guys. Holly Millican from South Grafton
High School here and this is my second video on making maths fun.
Now today I wanted to take you guys through a couple of the activities that I try and
use with some of my most disengaged students. Now, when I come into the classroom I tend
to see disengaged students in one of three categories.
The first one being, the ones that genuinely don’t understand the mathematics. They’ve
missed something somewhere along the way and they just don’t quite get it. The second
one is the student who doesn’t see the value, they don’t understand how it links to real
life and why they have to do it. They ask all of our favourite questions: ‘why do
I even have to learn this? When am I ever going to use this?’
And the third type of student is the one that has something that’s just more important.
They’re too into their soccer or their football or their music or their art and that’s what’s
important to them, rather than mathematics. Now one of the ways I’ve found to engage
those disengaged kids is to use those hands on activities. Now one of the ways that I
do that is through using these giant die. The kids love them, because they’re massive
and I’ve bought them from modern teaching aids online. Now, they’re so good because
you can use them for heaps of different maths activities from adding to subtracting, to
multiplying, to algebra. I try and use them as much as I can with the
kids, and this one here’s my favourite because it’s got white boards on the sides. So you
can put whatever you want on either of the sides. With some of my lowest classes that
only have a few students in them, I will put their names on the sides of it and they all
get to roll the die and whoever’s name comes up has to answer the question and that kind
of thing. Just something a bit different, so it’s
not just the teacher calling on the student to answer the question, you know, it’s something
a bit engaging and different and it’s something a bit, you know they get a bit on edge about
it, ‘oh, who’s going to come up?’ You know, they get excited.
So something a bit different than just answering questions that are on the board, just a different
way to approach it. My second strategy for battling disengagement
in the classroom is implementing alternate seating. So, as you can see, I have a rug
down the front of my classroom which allows the kids to move from being in the standard
seats that they sit in every day, for six hour a day, into a different learning space.
So they can move onto the floor, they can move onto the couches, grab themselves a clipboard
and learn in a slightly different way than they would in some of their other classes.
By giving the students this option, I create a space for engagement and a space for something
different and something exciting, and make them actually want to come to class and want
to be there. Now my third strategy is obviously relating
content to the real world which a lot of maths does anyway, but I have found that by specifically
linking the mathematics we are learning in class with something like a job that the students
want to do, or something that they can go ‘oh, hey, that’s a real thing’ they
become a lot more engaged. So the sheets you’re seeing up on the screen here now are another
Clark Creative Education resource and they are absolutely amazing at linking concepts
that you learn throughout the maths course to real life jobs and real life experiences
so that when you get that question from the students of ‘when am I ever going to use
this?’ You can go, ‘here’s where you’re going to use it’.
Now here you guys can see me teaching a lesson on surface area. Now this topic always seems
to get at least some of my students confused as they are trying to picture abstract, 3D
objects that they may or may not necessarily feel confident imagining.
So continuing on with this trend on relating content to the real world, I try to show students
exactly how they’re going to use this concept in real life.
Rather than have my students simply complete questions from the text book, I went round
to some local businesses and asked for some of their old boxes. So now each pair of students
has several boxes and they need to measure and find the surface area of each of these
boxes which engages students in a practical application of the mathematics that we’ve
learnt within the lesson. There really is no one size fits all with
engaging students. What works for me may not necessarily work for other people. What works
for me one week may not necessarily work the next, or with a different class. But the way
that I see it, if I can get students to come into my classroom and be engaged and think
that it’s a fun space and a happy space to be, then that’s the first step in getting
them engaged in the actual mathematics behind it.

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