5 Ways to Help Them “See” the Math

Stuart J. Murphy
Stuart J. Murphy
15 May
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Are your students having trouble grasping that new math concept? Visual learning strategies may provide the help they need. Research shows that when children are able to “see” the math, they are more likely to understand the concept and apply it to other situations.

Visual learning is making sense of complex data using models such as illustrations, photos, diagrams, graphs, symbols and icons. Five skills are key to successful visual learning:

• Observation
• Recognition
• Perception
• Interpretation
• Self-expression

It is important to put these skills into action to help students see the math. For example:

Create Charts and Graphs
Making bar graphs is a good way to visualize relationships between data. Encourage children to collect data
on subjects they for which they have a natural interest, such preferred flavors of ice cream. Ask them compare information shown on the graphs and answer questions: What is the favorite flavor? The least favorite?

SJM Pearson Blog Art

Try it out! Get free online access to enVisionMath 2.0

Visualize relationships
Guide students in looking for and identifying relationships between numbers. Help them to see patterns and ask questions about how the patterns work. When doubling a number, always show the two sets that make up the number. Understanding these relationships quickly leads to seeing more complex patterns, such as the even sets of four when counting by fours. 4, 8, 12, 16. These skills help to prepare children for multiplication.

Sketch out word problems
It can be helpful for students to sketch out word problems so they can see exactly what is happening.
Whether making tally marks or drawing objects to keep track of quantities, kids are much more likely to get it if they can see it.

Make Estimates Visually
How long is the school’s parking lot measured in feet? First, visualize and estimate how many students lying end to end it would take to span the lot. Next, figure out the average student height in feet. Multiply the two and you will have estimated the length of the parking lot. Now, measure to find out how close the estimate was!

Be Creative About Math

Whether learning to make sense of mathematical problems or mastering new concepts such as quantity, dimension, proportion and scale, visual learning strategies can help students reach their goals by helping them “see” the math.

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