Engagement and Differentiated Instruction Help Students Love Math: A Teacher Success Story

Most of Amanda Nixon’s students enter her class either loving or hating math.

Those who hate math are students who typically say that they just don’t get it. But Ms. Nixon has a solution for them – or rather, many solutions.

“I work to build every child’s confidence in math by allowing and encouraging them to explore different solution paths,” she explains, “Math is often taught as a set of procedures, which does not provide opportunity for different learners or different levels of math learners. I have differentiated activities for each math lesson.”

By working in groups and empowering her students to present, explain, and dispute different ways of finding the right answer, she engages her class and helps them learn more.

But student engagement doesn’t stop here. Ms. Nixon asks her students to assess themselves before and after covering a topic. Students can rank themselves from novice to expert in their mastery of that specific area of study. Student self-assessment allows Ms. Nixon to reflect on her teaching, but also has a benefit for her students.

“It encourages students to be reflective about their own learning. They give more thought to their learning outcomes and therefore, take responsibility for their learning,” she says.

And by the end of the year in Ms. Nixon’s class, barely any students claim they hate math.