How to Teach for Retention in your Math Classroom

I was two years into my teaching when the new core curriculum was rolled out.  I was excited about the rigor of the new curriculum, but stressed out about how I was going to teach all of it.  I had mapped out the year various different ways to try and fit all the curriculum in the time allowed, including a few weeks for review at the beginning of the year.  I just couldn't make it work.  I talked to my director about my concern, and she very wisely asked me, "Why do you have to review at the beginning of the year?"  Her question caused me to do some deep reflection. Why do I have to review at the beginning of the year?  Are we as teachers teaching so poorly that the students need so much review.  She suggested that I review small concepts as they come up during the teaching of other topics, but that I didn't need to devote so much time to review as I had originally planned.  Also, she helped me to realize that I needed to teach smarter.  I read and implemented lots of strategies and I learned some key strategies to teach for retention.

1-  Connect your Concepts: Connect both across topic and connect linearly.  For example, connect Algebra with Geometry.  Connect Algebra with Arithmetic. The more we as teachers help students to see the connections they will make sense of the math.  As students make sense of the math their retention increases.  Also, as you connect the mathematics there will be a natural constant review of concepts.

2-  Teach Deeper:  Instead of assigning 20 algebraic equations to solve, assign 4 in-depth questions that really cause the students to critically think and analyze.  If you are familiar with Bloom's Taxonomy aim for the higher levels. I like this diagram as the words help me to create questions that use higher-order thinking skills.

3-  Believe in Your Students:  Step up the rigor in your classroom and BELIEVE that they can achieve.  If you believe in your students then they will believe in themselves.  If you see success in your students, they see success in themselves, as you act like they can succeed then they act like they can succeed.

Implementing the above strategies will help your students retain mathematics.  This may feel scary at first implementing these strategies, but I have seen success in my own classroom as I connected the concepts, taught deeper and believed in my students, and I know that your students can succeed too.

Below are some links to tasks that implement higher-order thinking skills and connect concepts.  Perfect to help your students retain mathematics.

Math 7 Task-Based Assessment Prisms Taxes and Inequalities
Click Here

Math 7 Task-Based Assessment Rational Numbers Tables Graph
Click Here

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