Teaching Math to 6th Grade Students: Methods and Strategies

By 6th grade, students are expected to solve a variety of math problems involving topics such as decimals, fractions and measurement conversions. In sixth grade, new topics include percentages, statistics and probability. The challenge is to find ways to review old concepts, teach new ones and retain both. Finding teaching methods and strategies that accomplish all of this as well as garner student interest - even enthusiasm - is even more challenging. Here are some ideas.

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Ways to Teach 6th Grade Math

Procedures and Tactics

Direct Instruction

Although the formal, teacher-centered method of direct instruction is not frequently used, its lesson planning structure is highly organized and can be helpful, even if you plan on using a student-centered teaching method.

1. Orientation
Sometimes titled anticipatory set, this uses knowledge students learned previously and prepares them for the new lesson. It also includes a preview of the current lesson.
2. Presentation
This is the actual instruction or presentation of the new material.
3. Structured Practice
This step - sometimes called modeling - is often not included as a separate section in lesson plan formats, but rather as part of the presentation. It is a transition between the instruction and the guided practice to follow.
4. Guided Practice
The teacher directly guides the students as they attempt the new material.
5. Independent Practice
Students can practice independently in the classroom or with homework (or both). Feedback occurs as soon as possible after the work is done.
6. Closure
Wrap up the lesson by reviewing and finding out what the students have learned and where they still have questions.

Multiple Learning Styles

Different children learn in different ways. A single child may even learn different types of information with different learning styles. To compensate, use a variety of different teaching methods in the classroom, including visual aids, hands-on exercises and activities that appeal to the students' personal interests. Some ideas include:

  • Manipulatives
  • Stories and poems
  • Music
  • Physical activities and games
  • Other games
    • Board games
    • Paper and pencil games
    • Interactive computer games

Successful Strategies

To ensure that your teaching method is successful for your 6th graders, consider the following check list.

  1. Be sure the concept makes sense and give clear, step-by-step instructions for new concepts.
  2. The goal should be learning; not just finishing the textbook or passing a test.
  3. Know and use the tools for your teaching method.
  4. Make it fun.
  5. Include frequent review and reinforcing drills.
  6. Give immediate feedback on students' work.
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