A Grade 3/4 class at Heritage Glen Public School in Oakville has turned students’ fascination for social media hashtags into a math teaching moment.
With a new provincial math curriculum beginning this school year, teacher Carrie Tait utilized her students' fondness for hashtag statements to help them gain some early confidence during what is called the ‘First 15 Days of Math’ plan.
“Setting up routines and procedures at the beginning of the school year is extremely important for engaging students, encouraging independence and empowering students,” Tait says.
To help empower students, Tait says she’s been learning a lot about her class and how to best engage them. Since math can be a difficult subject for some students, she endeavored to find ways to connect with them and help them feel comfortable learning mathematics.
“During this time, I learned that my Grade 3/4 students love social media and hashtags. By using what they can relate to, they feel included, connected, and empowered,” she explains. “So I decided to tweak my lesson and create a ‘graffiti’ page on the first page of their math notebooks where they creatively wrote hashtags related to growth mindset in math.”
Students created their own hashtags as motivation to build confidence within themselves that they can succeed in the math lessons. The quotes include:
“The students were engaged and enjoyed the activity,” Tait says. “Our classrooms are extremely heterogeneous and we need to offer a variety of entry points, for those who struggle and those who excel, in order to build confidence and engage as many as possible. The students were given the opportunity to use whiteboards, which is fun and a change from traditional paper/pencil tasks. And of course, they loved the hashtags. I presented everything on a slideshow which they also find engaging. I can tell the students enjoyed it because of their active participation and their request to add to their graffiti page.”
Students loved the fun approach.
"I liked the lesson because it taught us not to give up. If we struggle in math, it's okay," says Jaydan, Grade 3, whose quotes include #dontgiveup.
“I loved the lesson because it reminded me to learn from mistakes,” says Grade 3 student Amariya, whose quotes included #staystrong. “Mistakes are good for us because we learn from them. We can do something different next time.”
Getting students connected in unique ways to subjects can be an effective strategy to build confidence in their learning, whether for math or any other subject, Tait says.
“When we connect math lessons to what students are interested in, they are able to relate more easily. When they can relate, they are more actively engaged and have a better chance of making connections, learning, and the more successful and less anxious they will be as their math journey progresses.”