Introducing New Math Concepts

Math can be especially complicated as one skill builds onto another. This means that if the 'foundation' has not been properly constructed, the student might struggle when faced with a more advanced concept. Greg Harrison, elementary teacher and contributor to Lesson Planet, offers some great ideas for reinforcing learned concepts while making connections to a new ideas. He suggests starting each math class with a warm up exercise. In preparation, choose four or five math problems that correlate to the concepts being learned in class. Make sure that the first few are familiar. You should be confident that, because of class lectures and homework problems, your students will understand how to solve them. The last few should introduce the new topic to be covered that day. In many cases they can be an extension of the previous problems, adding a new variable or requiring a different method to solve them, or they can be a simplified version of the main concept to be studied that day.

Encourage your students to give their best attempts. After each has finished the problems, invite a different volunteer to come to the white board a solve each problem. Harrison suggests having the class 'vote' on each solution using a 'thumbs up/thumbs down' response, raising hands, etc. This will allow you to see how the class is doing on a particular topic.

During the next warm-up session, the 'tricky' problems of yesterday will seem like a piece of cake!

Math Sequencing Activities