How To Teach Middle School Math - Make Sense of Math

How To Teach Middle School Math

10 Quick Tips on How To Teach Middle School Math

1) Be Specific and Clear

Math notation can get confusing. Students may understand 3x represents three x's, but some students may miss that x is one x. Another example is that 4 = 4/1. Also, use correct vocabulary while teaching, and encourage your students to do the same. 

2) Use Color

This is a great strategy especially when teaching expressions and equations. Putting a visual to like terms will help students make sense of the expression or equation. You could use color to circle the similar terms, or for each step in solving the equation. 

3) Focus on Problem-Solving

Yes you are teaching math, but you are also teaching problem-solving skills. Be careful not to do the thinking for them. This is why I steer away from using algorithms without meaning.

4) Plan Your Questions

Write questions you will ask as part of your lesson plans. Quality questions are a key part to quality teaching. Use critical-thinking questions to help guide their thinking throughout the class time.

5) Teach Deep First

Take the time to teach the content deep and correctly the first time around. This may require more time, but less reviewing will be needed.

6) Explain Thinking

Have the students explain their thinking.  You can have them do this verbally or written. 

7) Less Problems but Deeper Thinking

While I do think there is a place for fluency problems in the math classroom, fluency problems should not dominate student work.  Less is often more. 

8) Discovery Before Lectures

Give your students discovery problems with a low-floor and high-ceiling to introduce them to new concepts. Then you can discuss as a class what they discovered. "Lectures" can be used more as a summary of what was learned.

9) Continuous Growth Mindset

Take time to teach a growth math mindset throughout the year. Students often need a consistent reminder that they can learn math. 

10) Give Yourself Grace

Teaching math is tough especially in the middle grades when students have often already developed their view of math. Sometimes a lesson will totally fail, and that is ok. Take the time to think about what went well, and what could have been better. You are doing better than you think you are. 

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Save these tips and ideas to your favorite classroom Pinterest board. Come back and reference them for ideas on standards-based grading in middle school math.

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