## Make Math About Learning Not Memorizing

When teaching math, it’s easy to fall into the trap of teaching it the way you were taught, of over-explaining, and of making lessons more about memorization than actual learning. However, when students simply memorize a formula, they don’t comprehend how to get from question to solution in the same way they would if they deduced the relationship themselves – or even at all. “Over-scaffolding” a lesson, i.e. taking the critical thinking out of problem solving, does students a disservice. In an article for A Pass Education Blog, Liz Arcand suggests four ways to improve math lesson planning: de-scaffold, incorporate other content areas, increase the rigor of math questions and tasks, and learn more about PARCC and other standardized exams to understand what will be asked of your students – and how.

Number Linx is a set of cards that fit into our Puzzling Polygons board. They are an example of incorporating content area into math; there are multiple series of cards that fit into each of the ten spaces around the board, including the sign for each number in American Sign Language and different instruments with the correlating number of strings. These cards encourage children to think about how each number relates to a card and therefore to more fully understand the properties of each number and how it is relevant in their lives.

Building NumberOpolis is another activity that encourages children to make connections between numbers and their world. Each number has a personality and now needs its own home; by asking children to create these homes, we are encouraging them to think critically about what belongs in which number’s home. For example, maybe 0 should have round windows and live in a donut-shaped house while 1 lives in a really tall tower and 7’s home is covered in rainbows. The possibilities are endless, and this activity helps children realize how prevalent numbers are in their lives and increase their numerical literacy.

These are just two examples of ways to make math learning more interactive and to encourage more critical thinking in lessons. Let us hear your ideas!