Getting kids excited about math can be a real challenge. As much as it matters that we’re effusive about our joy for numbers, creating a culture of investment simply through our own excitement is daunting, draining, and destined to fall flat (especially in late October). Rather than relying on our excitement alone, here are 3 Investment Moves you can use to build a culture of excitement about and belief in math.
Win of the Day
Investment is all about building students’ sense of agency and motivation–helping your students build a strong belief that they can succeed in math, in your course, and on the daily lesson, and helping your students create a strong belief that they want to succeed in math, because it connects deeply to something they care about. Win of the Day is one of the ways that you can build both of these.
Win of the Day is simple: you pick something great that happened the day before, and you celebrate it like heck. That’s it. You consciously pick a good thing, and protect time to shout it out every day. Some tips for implementing Win of the Day:
- Post it publicly. Kids love recognition, and they especially love it when their peers see them recognized.
- Alternate between individual actions, group actions, and class actions. Show your kids that all levels matters, and you can win on all levels.
- Be strategic. If there’s a skill or piece of content coming up that students may really struggle with, use Win of the Day to reinforce their belief that they can succeed on the content.
- Connect it to your positive incentive system. If you’re using class or individual points, connect it to that, and give individuals points for when they’re part of win of the day, or the class points when it’s a class win.
- Be consistent. A system like this requires trust, and trust requires following through. If you’re not able to deliver a Win of the Day on a day, be transparent, let your kids know why, and restart the routine.
Number of the Week
You can use Number of the Week to both build students’ belief that they can succeed and their desire to succeed. Number of the Week is simply that–an important number that you’re choosing to highlight. You could choose numbers like:
- Really strong scores from exit tickets, quizzes, or tests.
- A strong attendance number or other similar goals.
- A number that builds broader investment, like the difference in lifetime earnings between only having a high school degree and a college diploma.
You can use this creatively, but it’s your chance to send messages to your kids about your belief in their ability to succeed and grow, and to build their motivation to do well in your class. Whereas Win of the Day is primarily about investing kids in the daily lesson, Number of the Week is about investing them in your course.
Mathematician of the Month
Mathematician of the Month is about investing kids in math. It’s about building their belief that students who look like them and come from their communities can succeed in math, and that success can help them achieve their aspirations. Mathematician of the Month is simple: you pick a mathematician, and you highlight her/him. And to get you started, here’s a list of Mathematicians who aren’t white dudes that will definitely last you the whole year. Some things to think about:
- You’ll have to reference the Mathematician of the Month more than just once in a month. Are there places in daily lessons where you can reference back?
- Be specific! Don’t just shout out a person, talk about what they did, where they came from, and use it as an example to help your kids see that math can help them reach their aspirations.
Investment’s no secret sauce–it’s hard work and intentionality, and constantly working to convince your kids that they can succeed–in math, in your course, and on the lesson you’re teaching, and helping them build a desire to succeed–in math, in your course, and on the lesson–so that they can build the intrinsic motivation that leads to powerful culture.