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Engaging Children Physically and Mentally: The Power of Math Trails - Research Paper Example

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In “Designing Math Trails for the Elementary School,” Kim Margaret Richardson (2004) discussed the role of math trails in making Math more physically engaging and interesting to students…
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Engaging Children Physically and Mentally: The Power of Math Trails
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Download file to see previous pages Math trails are similar to science trails because teachers use a pre-selected and planned route, where students can learn mathematics in an actual environment. Richardson (2004) also explained the benefits of math trails: 1) They can enhance student participation and engagement because they offer exploration and adventure; 2) They can encourage group and class interaction and communication through sharing and learning mathematics concepts together; 3) They are relatively easy to prepare and cheaper than field trips; and 4) Students can learn and reinforce learned mathematics concepts and find them relevant in everyday life. Richardson (2004) indicated that a teacher can make a trail or he/she can collaborate with others to produce a trail that is flexible enough to adapt to different grade levels. She provided a map of a sample trail, sample instructions, and sample activities. She also recommended ideas on how to get started, how to deepen math learning, and how to use the trail. Analysis The main idea of the article is that math does not have to be done individually and while sitting inside classrooms. Instead, it can and should be done outside too, where students can interact with each other and the school/natural environment. This article is related to course readings that emphasize the renewal on how math should be perceived by teachers and students. Teachers and students should stop seeing math as conjectures, formulas, shapes, and numbers with no social or communication value, but something that can be exciting and relevant to children’s and adults’ everyday lives. Richardson (2004) also emphasized resourcefulness, which math trails promote. Schools do not need to spend an extra dime to add this to the curriculum, although teachers will spend extra time designing and regularly improving it. This article presents feasible suggestions, which can make math teaching more engaging for students and teachers. Many math teachers do want to make math more compelling and relevant for their students and math trails can help them do that. At the same time, like what Richardson (2004) recommended, the class can focus on parts of the trail that are specifically related to the curriculum, textbook, and core standards. Aside from high usability, this article is also related to Common Core Standards, especially “CCSS.Math.Practice.MP1,” “CCSS.Math.Practice.MP2,” and “CCSS.Math.Practice.MP3.” Math trails support CCSS.Math.Practice.MP1 because they open students to the opportunity to resolve hands-on real-life problems. For instance, Richardson (2004) recommended asking questions on brick patterns and colors. This question can be related to asking how many more bricks would be needed if another classroom is made and questions about space and patterns. Follow-through questions in class can help students persevere in further understanding math concepts because of additional practical math applications. In addition, math trails support CCSS.Math.Practice.MP2 because of the decontextualization and contextualization processes included in on-site and classroom follow-through activities. Students can abstract the problem more easily because of the actual materials at hand, instead of just reading about them from a textbook. MP2 says: “Quantitative reasoning entails habits of creating a coherent representation of the problem at hand; considering the units involved; and knowing and flexibly using different properties of operations and objects” (Common Core State Standards Initiative, 2012). Students can perform quantitative reasoning, for instance, as they try to apply a brick pattern and ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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