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MTTC Early Childhood Education (106): Practice & Study Guide26 chapters | 259 lessons | 19 flashcard sets

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Lesson Transcript

Instructor:
*Maria Airth*

Maria has a Doctorate of Education and over 15 years of experience teaching psychology and math related courses at the university level.

Learning while doing helps students internalize what they are learning. Experiential methods for math instruction are methods that allow students to experience, or do, while they learn. This lesson covers ideas for how to incorporate experiential learning in your classroom.

What does it mean to learn using experiential methods? According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, **experiential** means ''to provide experience with or direct observation of.'' So, experiential methods for math instruction must refer to teaching math to students by allowing them to actually experience the math.

That sounds good, but what does it mean to 'experience the math'? To experience is to do and see things, or to have things happen to you. Therefore, **experiential methods for math instruction** are methods that allow students 'to do', and 'to see' and 'to have things happen to them' in the realm of math; to make the students active participants in the process of learning math. By increasing physical activity level when learning a concept, students will internalize the information and be more supported in the concepts. The more they can 'do' while learning, the better.

When considering ways to incorporate experiential learning into your classroom, remember that students are not just learning during instruction time, but also during free time. Students learn concepts both in context and out of context, so don't forget to account for all of this when developing your mathematical environments.

Let's walk through some examples of experiential methods of math instruction in the four scenarios of learning in a classroom: in context during instruction time, out of context during instruction time, in context during free time, and out of context during free time.

**Instruction time** is intentional learning time in which the teacher attempts to pass information to the students. This could be through lectures, working on practice problems, or working in groups to solve problems.

Let's first look at in context instruction.

**In context** instruction, in this case, refers to the mathematical concepts being part of an intentional mathematical activity. It is learning about math while students are working on math. This may seem obvious; of course you learn about math when you have a lesson on math, what else could you learn about? It is possible to have cross-curriculum learning going on in each subject, but that is a topic for out of context learning.

The most common experiential tool for teaching math concepts is the use of **manipulatives**. These are any tools that a student can manipulate to assist them in visualizing the mathematical concepts at play in a lesson. Common manipulatives in early childhood education are counters for learning to count or sort in groups. Foam shapes are often used as manipulatives in geometry lessons. Clocks with spinning hands, movable angles, fraction blocks, and unit cubes are all examples of manipulatives that can be used to give students physical, active experience with mathematical concepts during instruction time.

Now, let's look at out of context learning.

Earlier, it was mentioned that it is possible to learn topics that are not in context with the lesson. An example of learning out of context would be working on reading comprehension while completing a math lesson on word problems. The reading aspect is a secondary subject that can be reinforced during math instruction. This is true in reverse as well. As before, when a teacher intentionally passes information to students, it is considered instruction time; however, if mathematical concepts are being learned or reinforced during the instruction of other subjects, then the math is being taught **out of context**.

An example of an experiential method to reinforce mathematical concepts out of context would be to ask students to use shaped stamps to make (or match) a picture during art class. The lesson focus is art and the product of the lesson is an art sample, but the use of shapes reinforces mathematical concepts. The act of having to choose shapes and use the stamps to create the picture makes the whole activity experiential.

Recess and lunch times are times when students' brains are still working and ripe for absorbing information. Just because they are playing does not mean students are not paying attention and learning. In fact, one might hypothesize that they are paying more attention to what they are doing because it is a personally chosen activity during those times when they are free to make their own choices. By offering games that support mathematical foundations, teachers can give students more experiential exposure to mathematical concepts outside of formal instruction time.

Let's first look at in context free time.

Just as before, in context experiential methods of mathematical instruction during free time would be those activities that are clearly focused on math. If the classroom has a play shop with money for pretend buying and selling, this would be an in context example of mathematical support outside of instruction time.

Other in context math support games include any board game that deals with counting or money, hopscotch (for counting sequences), and even jump rope (which has games requiring counting). Board games and computer games can be developed or purchased for all levels of mathematical skills and to support any concepts being covered in the classroom. Giving students these types of free time activities helps reinforce concepts learned during instruction time.

Now, let's take a closer look at out of context free time.

Out of context free time games that can be considered experiential methods for math instruction are games that require critical thinking and mathematical skill, but are not overtly mathematical. There are many activities that support mathematical foundations. Chess and checkers are highly mathematical games of predictions and probabilities. Having a listening center set up for students to quietly listen to classical music is also an excellent way to inadvertently support mathematical foundations through out of context actions. Any action that supports critical thinking or mathematical foundations can be seen as an out of context experiential method for math instruction. Be creative!

Let's take a couple of moments to recap what we've learned about experiential teaching strategies that math teachers can use with their students.

**Experiential methods** for math instruction refers to giving students active ways to interact with math concepts. This can be done during math instruction time with **manipulatives** (tools that allow students hands-on experience with mathematical concepts) or during instruction for other subjects by incorporating math concepts into the other lessons (like using geometric shapes during an art lesson).

We learned that the distinction is primarily between in context and out of context learning. **In context** instruction refers to the mathematical concepts being part of an intentional mathematical activity while **out of context** instruction refers to mathematical concepts being learned or reinforced during the instruction of other subjects.

Experiential methods for math instruction can be embedded into students' free time as well through the use of overtly mathematical games, such as pretend shop, games with money or counting at their base, or games that require number sequences (like hopscotch). Out of context activities that support mathematical abilities, like chess and listening to classical music, can also be offered to students during free time to increase their experiential mathematical time daily.

Actively engaging in mathematical concepts helps bind those concepts for students. The more experiential math instruction they have, the better they will internalize math concepts.

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MTTC Early Childhood Education (106): Practice & Study Guide26 chapters | 259 lessons | 19 flashcard sets

- Experiential Teaching Strategies for Math Concepts 7:04
- Arithmetic with Whole Numbers 9:43
- What Is The Order of Operations in Math? - Definition & Examples 5:50
- How to Perform Basic Operations with Measurements 8:45
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- Properties and Postulates of Geometric Figures 4:53
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- Using Geometry to Analyze Math Problems
- How to Read Scientific Graphs & Charts 9:49
- Mathematical Development in Children 4:48
- Mathematics Assessment Strategies in Early Childhood
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