Discovery-Based Learning

According to the Learning Principle of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, “Students must learn mathematics with understanding, actively building new knowledge from experience and prior knowledge.”  There are many ways to accomplish this, and it’s important that you, the teacher, develop a teaching strategy that can accomplish this goal while using your own personal strengths.

Discovery-based learning and light bulb moments!
To tap into students’ prior knowledge, I love to begin a new topic with a discovery-based – or inquiry-based – activity.  My discovery-based worksheets have been specially designed to engage students in learning that moves beyond traditional skills practice.  Students develop a deeper understanding of the big idea and make connections between concepts. 

The most important things to keep in mind when designing your own inquiry lessons are to prepare a series of questions to pose to students and to give them lots of time to complete the tasks – typically in pairs or small groups.  These tasks should be selected such that they lead students to discover patterns on their own without explicit notes.  Once students have had ample time to play with the material, allow summary in the form of classroom discussion and brief, written notes.

I believe in a balanced approach to math education. I believe in a balanced approach to math education. When I develop my unit plan, I try to incorporate one or two discovery-based lessons to engage students in the content and facilitate connection-building between concepts.  Then for each topic, I provide brief, organized notes so that students have a resource to look back at for problem solving steps and specific examples.  Finally, I vary my practice activities so that students are doing something new each day within the particular unit.  In my class we use scavenger hunts, mini-white board practice, practice problems at the front board, task cards, card games, card sorts, and sometimes just a worksheet will do the trick!

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