Math Anxiety
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Math Basics : How to Deal With Math Anxiety

The key to dealing with math anxiety is to have an open mind, time and patience. Get rid of your math anxiety with tips from a collegiate math teacher in thi...
Samantha Hines's insight:

This video explores different types of math anxiety (types that I wasn’t aware of) and how to deal with such anxiety. Teachers can use this information to better understand their students and the struggles they face. I didn’t know that there were different kinds of math anxiety - I thought it was all generalized. Just by being introduced to these different kinds, I can think about my students who struggle with math and start to think about why on a deeper level and what exactly about math bothers them. When teachers better understand the specifics of what their students are struggling with, they can better tailor their support. For example, for a student with math test anxiety, they may understand the material in class, but when asked to reproduce it on a test, they freeze up. For those with numerical anxiety, simply manipulating numbers gives them anxiety. They may get numbers mixed up or just not understand their operations. For these students, teachers can allow them to manipulate objects and work toward the understanding of a concept without even seeing a number. For those with abstraction anxiety, anything involving variables (like numbers) makes them put up a wall. Students can have a combination of these, or even all three. That can be pretty overwhelming for students. This professor’s strategies start with keeping an open mind. He states that if students see math like other subjects, where they typically think it’s possible for them to improve, they’ve already met the goal halfway in terms of their psychological mindset. Teachers should also create an environment where students feel comfortable to ask questions. When students feel stupid in asking questions, this will only increase their anxiety. Students also need to make commitment and persevere - teachers can help them do so by believing in them and letting them know that they’re capable! Students also shouldn’t rely on memorization - make math meaningful and able to be applied to other subjects! Lastly, allowing students to develop responsibility for their learning can help reduce math anxiety. Both students and teachers should acknowledge successes! At the same time, teachers and students can work together to create more positive attitudes towards working on challenges. 

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Calming Math Anxiety in Elementary School Students

Calming Math Anxiety in Elementary School Students
Samantha Hines's insight:

In all of my research on math anxiety, it’s clear that it’s a huge problem that can really cause learning obstacles for otherwise very capable students. Math anxiety can cause lasting problems in attitudes and dispositions toward mathematics. It is a vicious cycle: a student worries they won’t be able to do the math or fears failure, which causes them to draw a blank during tests and exams, which doesn’t allow them to do well, which encourages the fears and worries even more. This article points out an interesting theory I haven’t read before - in a 2012 report, it was found that girls generally suffer more anxiety than boys. Interestingly enough, this fear of math can then lead to a lower percentage of girls involved in STEM education - something that this country as a whole, teachers, and parents alike are trying to encourage for young girls. When this article talks about where math anxiety comes from, it claims that when students try to memorize procedure rather than understand math concepts, they get overwhelmed because there is too much to remember. Just another reason to make math more meaningful and accessible! By doing so, we can lessen our students’ math anxiety. I think it’s extremely crucial for teachers in the younger grades to really help students develop a healthy attitude toward math, because it seems like once it starts, it only gets worse as they progress. If students are introduced to math in a positive way where ‘messy’ learning is encouraged and acceptable, I think they will be much better off when going into subsequent grades. 

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megan kraft's curator insight, November 14, 2015 10:24 PM

Anxiety in math is a snowball effect. If you feel lost and do not understand one concept, it could spiral into other concepts down the road. There are strategies and lessons in this website that will help alleviate the anxiety and demonstrate how to work with students who are feeling overwhelmed.

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Math Survival Guide at Cool math .com - Heal the Past, Conquer Anxiety and Build Success!

How to get past your fear and loathing of math and move on to be a successful student!
Samantha Hines's insight:

CoolMath is a website that my mentor and I have utilized many times in the classroom. The technology teacher at Beltsville Academy also loves it and uses it when the students go to her for specials every week. The ‘math survival guide’ helps ‘heal the past, conquer anxiety, and build success’. In the introduction on this page, a teacher talks about how she first had to change herself and be the one to set the tone for success in the classroom. I think this is really important. It has to start with the teacher - if the teacher isn’t understanding of her students’ worries and motivating, how can we expect our students to be understanding with themselves and motivated on their own to do math? These articles within the math survival guide provide teachers with stories and strategies to help their students with math anxiety. One that caught my eye was the relaxation exercises - including a head to toe inventory. Students tighten every muscle group in their body, then let them relax. This would be a really cool exercise for a teacher to try in their classroom before a math test. They could shut off the lights, play quiet music, and guide students through a relaxation exercise such as this one. It would only take a few minutes, and could benefit students greatly. I would be very interested to see and compare test results when teachers don’t allow relaxation techniques, and when teachers do. For older students, the ‘how to study’ section of this guide could be really beneficial. If teachers guide students through making a study outlines, not only are the students getting valuable review in-class, they are also learning study skills that they can carry with them throughout school and carry over to other subjects. Even better: we could teach our students how to make study outlines. 

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Learning Math Without the Anxiety

Discipline, Tools for Teaching, positive discipline, classroom management, staff development, professional development, new teacher training, Title One, new teacher induction, teacher training, effective teaching, teacher workshops, no child left ...
Samantha Hines's insight:

This article speaks about the extent to which math anxiety is widespread across students, so much that teachers freely admit to it. I wasn’t aware that anxiety can ‘literally cut off the working memory needed to learn and solve problems’. Therefore, I believe that teachers need to address math concepts just as much as they need to address students’ attitudes about math. This article makes a great point: by the time students get to middle school, they have already learned to hate math. Therefore, teachers in subsequent grades have a harder job because they have to undo those negative attitudes toward math before they can make math engaging for their students. I had never heard of the ‘say, see, do’ teaching before. While I’m not sure how this would play out in a classroom (especially with time constraints), I think that the ‘doing’ part of this would minimize forgetting and allow students to explore the new topic quicker. This article’s view on corrective feedback was also interesting - how often do we as teachers scan work and only point out what’s wrong? It’s natural, because that’s what our eye catches. However, I think that teachers could boost their students’ confidence first by pointing out what they do correctly. To further that even more, I could say to a student, “I love the way you did problem 2. Can you apply the strategy you used her to problem 3?” Also, this article encourages teachers to clarify a path a student can take to correct their answer instead of just pointing out the error. Giving students guidance on what to do next helps them to not get discouraged or defensive, and gives them confidence to move forward instead of just shutting down. 

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Math anxiety causes trouble for students as early as first grade | UChicago News

Math anxiety causes trouble for students as early as first grade | UChicago News | Math Anxiety | Scoop.it
Samantha Hines's insight:

This article from the University of Chicago points out an alarming statement: many high-achieving students experience math anxiety at a young age - a problem that can follow them throughout their lives. So, students who are otherwise doing well in school can be held back from their full potential just because of math anxiety. In researching math anxiety, I’ve come to realize just how serious of a problem it is. I know that I suffered from it horribly in elementary and middle school, and still don’t like math today. Sadly, I can see it developing in some of the students in my classroom now. I found it interesting to learn that worries about math can disrupt working memory, which students could otherwise use to succeed. It totally makes sense that early math anxiety ‘may lead to a snowball effect that exerts an increasing cost on math achievement by changing students’ attitudes and motivational approaches towards math, increasing math avoidance, and ultimately reducing math competence’. So, if math anxiety starts so early and has such a big impact, how can we as educators prevent it? I love the idea of expressive writing - having students write about their worries regarding math ahead of time, which minimizes anxiety’s effect on working memory. It’s interesting that drawing pictures can also lessen the burden of math anxiety. This could be really beneficial for ELLs (we don’t want to induce math and language anxiety!) as well as for younger learners. 

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