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Do Your Students Love Math?


Do your students love math?
Do some of your students hate math? I know that I always start the year with at least a few students who say they hate math. When asked why, they can't always give a reason, they just "hate it." Why is this, and what can we do to change this for those students that are more difficult to reach?
While browsing on Amazon, I came across the title Learning to Love Math: Teaching Strategies That Change Student Attitudes and Get Results by Judy Willis, MD, so I decided to purchase it and see what the author has to offer. The book was published in 2010, but I hadn't seen it before...perhaps you have?

In the introduction, Willis points out that the work force has an increasing need for people who have mathematical skills to solve problems (a higher-order thinking skill that is a function of the prefrontal cortex). The prefrontal cortex is also responsible for: personal responsibility, emotional response control, planning, prioritizing, gratification delay, organization, creative problem solving, critical analysis, judgment, prediction and self-motivation; these are the skills that employers are currently looking for.

To help students develop these skills, we need to help change students’ negative attitudes to positive. To do this, Willis believes that students need to have opportunities to develop personal connections with math so that they value math knowledge; neuroscience research says there is a connection between “enjoyable, participatory learning” and long-term memory.

According to Willis, interventions to help change negative attitudes include:
-evaluating and planning so that each student is working at an appropriate level of achievable challenge
-building missing foundation skills through strategies like “errorless math,” predicting and estimating, and scaffolding with cue words and previews
-teaching to students’ strengths and interests
-recognizing the link between effort and goal achievement
-using strategies to reduce negative responses to mistakes (model appropriate reactions, discuss common mistakes and how to avoid them) and increasing levels of participation
 
I am looking forward to reading more about these ideas and finding some new strategies!
 

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