With spring break just around the corner, excitement, anticipation, and lack of motivation arises in the students (and sometimes the teachers). Students call spring break a “break” for a reason. It is a time where they can do what they WANT to do. It is part of the academic calendar where they do not have to step foot into the school building. Many times they take this mindset home and forget about all homework that they are still accountable for, or cram till the last day of break to complete it all. This week can be detrimental if the students do not keep up with their mathematical critical thinking throughout the week. The question arises, how can we, as teachers, provide a way for students to focus on mathematics and be intrigued with learning when they are on “break mode” and highly unmotivated?
They are infinite tools, curriculum, and ideas to answer this question. This blog post is just going to describe some of these resources that may help the students become more willing to perform mathematical operations during their break.
We all know the students over break are going to have their phone in their hand for a big chunk of the time. So, as educators, it’s time to take advantage of that! There are numerous applications that students can download for free that will test their mathematical knowledge. From mathematical games to mathematical tools, these apps incorporate a range of topics. Here is a list of just a few of the apps that educators can assign for their student explained in Greg Swanson’s blog at this web address http://appsineducation.blogspot.com/p/maths-ipad-apps.html . Also searching for applications can be easy using a search engine or even https://www.pinterest.com ! An idea that is pretty cool, is to have the students compete and play each other in the mathematical games (similar to trivial crack or words with friends but apps that incorporate mathematical subjects). This is a fun way for students to keep their brains working without even realizing they are doing homework.
To take advantage of technology, educators can assign a time requirement of mathematical online gaming. There are SO many math games to choose from. Just pick games (or have the students pick) a topic that covers the material taught prior to spring break. As teachers, we can even create our own games using resources like GeoGebra and Desmos. These games give the students a chance to get away from the traditional pencil and paper method. Some resources that will help one discover games and more include http://illuminations.nctm.org/ and http://samjshah.com/worksheets-projects/ .
Although one might argue that this tool only pertains to elementary school students, I disagree. Free Rice is an organization that donates 10 grains of rice for every question answered. Students can create an account and start tracking how many bowls of rice they have obtained to help feed a family, just by answering some questions. Free Rice has a mathematics category that allows students to practice their times tables. So yes, students at the high school level should know these are they aren’t “learning” anything new.. BUT it will keep the students’ brain refreshed and working, while helping out others. Teachers can use this tool to have challenges for student like who can donate the most bowls of rice! http://freerice.com/#/english-vocabulary/1534
It is important for teachers to consider the travelers during spring break. The students are not going to want to pull out a calculator and a worksheet on the beach. It is almost inevitable that the students will spend 0% of their time on their homework or keeping their brain refreshed. This is a challenge for us as teachers. One way to go about this situation is require the students to interview a personal that uses math in their career. As we know… this includes A LOT of careers. Examples of questions students can ask the interviewee include… How do you use math in your career? What are some challenges you encounter with the math portion of your job? How do you do your math, computers? Calculators? Brain? How often do you use math and is it crucial to perform your job? What course did you have to take in order to hold your position? Etc. It is math research! Another idea for the plane riders (a little more intensive assignment) is to give a worksheet that includes circumstances of flying with questions regarding the variables that effect a flight, example wind resistance, weight, how big the plane is, speed, time..etc.
The most common tool, is to give the students an assignment that reviews the material that is being covered in class prior to spring break… BORING. But sometimes this is necessary as every student may not have access to a computer. Also, educators can use that same idea but manipulate it into something a little more exciting. For example, having an online portal or discussion board that gives a review question daily and must be answered in 24 or 48 hours. Or assigning challenging problems, but including huge incentives if they are completed.