Math Madness Wednesday: Back to School Math Tips

Back to School….3 words that can provoke fear or excitement (or maybe both!). As August is almost here, school is on everybody’s mind. In fact, some have already started their new school year, while others never stopped.
I have collected some of the best tips for teaching math, especially for the beginning of the school year. Thanks to those who helped out with the tips! Be sure to check them out as well.  Here is what I have found, in no particular order.
1. Decide on procedures and routines before school starts. Make sure YOU know how you want math to go so you can relay that message to your students.
2. As you are thinking about those routines, consider using journals. Use these journals to list vocabulary terms, track thinking, make diagrams, and create a portfolio for the year. (Stefany Smith, Tutoring Supplies by Demand)
3. Make it personal–Get to know your kids and their interests. Use this information to make math meaningful to your students! (Jen Larson, The Teacher Next Door)
4. Realize it is NOT about the answer–Math is a process and their is learning during the entire journey!  Don’t focus solely on the answer. Encourage your students to explain their thinking and develop a community of thinkers. Teach the students to also appreciate the process! (Mary Beth Riley, Run, Teacher Run!)
5. Everyone learns differently. The way YOU learn math may not be how your students learn math. So, make sure to use lots of different strategies and accept “non-traditional” methods. Of course, if your standards say they MUST know the standard algorithm, teach it. But, take what they know to help them master the standards.
6. Use food and hands on manipulatives whenever possible, no matter the age of the students! Not only do kinesthetic learners have a better chance at understanding the material, but it makes it more FUN and who doesn’t like that!?
7. Check, check, double check, and then check one more time! Teach the kids to check their work. But, you check too. Double check your work too. Check that your students are understanding. Most importantly, check to see if what you are doing is working.
8. Teach for understanding, not just rote memorization. Sure, there are some things (simple math facts) that need a lot of practice. If students don’t understand WHY 3 x 4 = 12, then what good does it do? Understanding MUST come first. (Martha Hach, The Owl Spot)
9. Incorporate technology any time you can. Just like the food and manipulatives, technology is great for specific learners (visual learners,  this time), but more importantly, it is FUN and engaging. Computers, tablets, overheads, interactive whiteboards, iPods, document cameras, whatever you have access to. These are kids of the digital age….it’s what they know! (Amy Mezni, Teaching Ideas 4 You)
10. Don’t be afraid to re-teach and go back when needed. Teaching is NOT a One Way Street!  Sometimes, the planner or the pacing guide need to be tossed out the window! Listen to your kids and meet THEIR needs! (Angela Strong, The Almost Their Height Teacher)
I hope these tips have helped you get yourself ready for back to school. Of course, this is not an all inclusive list! What tips do YOU have?
Want more math tips?  Follow my Math for Elementary Pinterest board here.