How to Create Effective Math Lessons

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  • 0:03 Creating a Plan
  • 0:25 Components of an…
  • 1:44 Lesson Plan Template
  • 3:18 Order of Operations Lesson
  • 5:49 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Matthew Bergstresser

Matthew has a Master of Arts degree in Physics Education. He has taught high school chemistry and physics for 14 years.

The goal of educators is to instill knowledge in students and teach them how to think. In this lesson, we will discuss how to create an effective math lesson.

Creating a Plan

Let's say you want to build a tree house. Before running off and gathering lumber, it's better to first have a plan for the project. For a teacher helping to construct a child's education, it's also better to start with a plan. For this lesson, let's discuss the general components of an effective lesson plan and then see how to create a specific lesson plan for a mathematics standard.

Components of an Effective Lesson

Each lesson you plan should be student-focused. This means the goal of the lesson is to maximize student learning and retention of the material, which consists of four main parts:

  1. Opening the folders
  2. Inquiry
  3. Discussion
  4. Reflection

Opening the folders is an expression that means accessing prior knowledge. It is like opening a folder in a file cabinet to access an important document. Students have a lot of information from previous math courses, so we want an opening activity that prompts students to access this knowledge.

Inquiry means the students use their prior knowledge to investigate some type of problem related in someway to the lesson's content.

The discussion part of the lesson involves discussing the students' ideas and the solutions they developed in the inquiry stage. Additionally, during the discussion, the teacher presents the content of the lesson. Afterwards, students work on practice problems with the teacher's guidance.

Reflection occurs at the closure of the lesson when the teacher reviews what has been taught during the lesson and gives a foretaste of the upcoming lesson. The students compile the information presented to them during the lesson.

Now let's uses these components to design a general lesson plan that can be reused for each lesson taught.

Lesson Plan Template

Our lesson's objective is how to implement the order of operations when solving problems. The format for our lesson plan will be in a grid, which can be generated using any spreadsheet software. It will include the anchors structure, purpose, and implementation.

Structure Purpose Implementation
Opening the folders What is the goal of the lesson? Activating strategies: 'Previously we worked on. . . Today we are going to. . . You should be able to. . . by the end of the lesson.'
Inquiry Introduce lesson and access prior knowledge. Provide a smaller scope problem relating to lesson.
Discussion Teach new content. Provide tasks for students to work on in groups. Students will use strategies taught to solve problems, and connect the dots from previous lesson to current lesson.
Reflection Summarize lesson and assign homework. What is the next lesson going to be about? Students reflect on lesson or solve problem by themselves.

There are many more ideas that can be included in a lesson plan template. The varieties of ideas for implementing the four main categories vary due to different content areas and level of student groups. Now, let's get more specific and look at a lesson plan for teaching the order of operations.

Order of Operations Lesson

The order of operations is crucial when solving advanced math problems. It is advisable to spend plenty of time on it to really install a deep understanding of it in the students. Let's put together a lesson plan using the general template we worked with earlier:

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