Mathematics is one of the core subjects and provides students with many important skills for life and their future studies. Sometimes it might feel like it’s one of the most difficult subjects as well and all of it seems overwhelming, especially during the time of distance learning. Our mathematics teacher and educational technologist Elo-Kai Kurel shares her ideas about distance learning and how to support students in their studies.
How do you plan your distance learning lessons and which technological tools do you use?
I have been using Google Classroom for a long time already and students are familiar with it. This allows me to share links, worksheets and different materials. I can assign tasks for the students, students can send their work to me, I can check the papers and give feedback. It is also compatible with many other online tools that I use.
Some of which include:
- Kami to write on PDF documents;
- Geogebra which includes geometry, algebra and statistics;
- Desmos for online graphic calculator;
- YouTube for tutorials and videos;
- Quizziz, Kahoot, Tahtquiz and Quizlet for online quizzes.
I have also found many Chrome extensions that support video lessons, for example Web Paint to write on different webpages and Talk and Comment to give oral feedback by leaving audio notes to students work.
Which YouTube channels about mathematics would you recommend?
Math Antics, Don’t Memorise, FuseSchool and Mashup Math are very good channels for videos about mathematics. There are so many videos about mathematics on YouTube and usually I can find a suitable video to match the topic.
Which everyday activities support mathematical thinking skills?
There are very many everyday activities that help to develop mathematical skills. We use mathematics all the time, without even noticing it. Including children in different activities helps them to develop their mathematical skills. Cooking is a good example. You have to weigh, measure and calculate the amounts according to portions. When building something children can measure and calculate the amount of materials that is needed. When putting dishes in the dishwasher or clothes in a washing machine, children can calculate when the programme ends and clean things can be taken out. Older children can evaluate how much washing gel is needed for a certain amount of laundry. And of course grocery shopping. Parents can give a child a sum of money and then the child has to calculate which things to get in order to manage with that sum. Or maybe there is some money left and they can get something for themselves as well? This can be applied both to going to the supermarket and ordering home.
What about games?
For example dice games where you have to calculate, like Yahtzee, dominoes and also a deck of cards can be used for different playful calculations. If there are no tools in hand, for example during a car ride, you can play a number guessing game or count something that can be seen from the car window. Brain teasers and logic puzzles like Sudoku, chess and checkers are also good.
How can a parent support their child during distance learning?
First of all, I want to say that even during the time of distance learning, learning is still school-guided and parents have a supportive role. It is understandable that parents want to help their children as much as possible, but I just want to support families and say that they are not in this alone. From time to time, parents should ask how it is going and take a look at some tasks to get an overview. If it seems that something is undone or there are some mistakes, then parents can learn together with their children. If this doesn’t help, then they can always turn to the teacher. A child should feel that they can get support if needed, both from their parents and from school.
What if someone is really struggling and doesn’t understand at all?
If a student feels that they are struggling to understand the topic, then of course one should turn to the teacher. We can find solutions together and organize in person consultations or one on one video lessons if needed. It’s important to make sure that a child doesn’t develop a reluctance to mathematics. The level of difficulty must be right. Every person has things and topics they have to practise more to fully understand. But I do want to encourage that in general basic school mathematics is doable for us all. It just might take some time and effort.