M.A.T.H. Tips: Vol. 2

Welcome to the second issue of M.A.T.H. Tips (Math Advice for Teaching HigherEd): For Profs by Profs! We’ve gathered sanity-saving best practices aimed to arrive just-in-time throughout the semester.  Here are some ways to keep the momentum going now that classes are going full steam and add/drop deadlines are nearing an end.


5 Ways to Keep the Momentum Going



  1. Have a float day this semester. Try holding in-class office hours, which can help students who have a hard time making regular office hours due to other classes or outside obligations such as work and open the door to those who haven’t connected yet.
  2. Make time for you.  The pull to answer emails and student questions at all hours is addictive. However, educators can suffer from plugged-in overload just like our students. Set aside time each week to NOT answer student emails.  Let them know ahead of time about your blackout times; post it in your LMS and they will adapt. It might even help them to set their own tech boundaries. 
  3. Use quick check-ins (2-3 minutes) to stay connected. Every 2-3 weeks meet with each student in your course for a quick face-to-face progress check. This is a great time to say “good job!” for work well done or to ask about issues preventing progress. This can be done over one or two class periods depending on the size of your class and the time allotted.  A quick connection lets students know you really care.
  4. Stickers are still cool. Some of you may recall the Lisa Frank and Hello Kitty sticker crazes of the 80s and 90s. Well, even today’s students love getting stickers for good work.  Try the classic stars or go crazy and use wacky, fun themes. You can even go virtual: find a fun image and frame it in an encouraging email “Thumbs up! Just a note to stay I appreciate you staying on track this semester.”  You might be surprised at the level of glee and competitiveness among your students. 
  5. Test anxiety is a growing concern in today’s math classes. Consider checking with your school’s counseling service to see if they offer test anxiety seminars (if they don’t, encourage them to start one!) or if they have materials you can post on your course page.


Listen Up! Featured Podcast

Check out the Math Ed Audio Podcast, which features interviews with math education researchers about recent studies. Hosted by Samuel Otten from the University of Missouri.


UNPLUG! Math After Hours

Music: Rock meets math. This is a must-have playlist for any math major; share with your students and have them add/edit this list.

Movies: Have you seen The Bletchley Circle on Netflix about women codebreakers in WWII? Watch Trailer

Fun: Trivia for Cocktail Parties! Read on

Gifts: Need a clever gift for your next gathering? Math Equations Wine Charms


Gabrielle Emanuel, Why We Learn Math Lessons that Date Back 500 Years. Heard on All Things Considered. National Public Radio, July 26, 2016.


Paul Drijvers, Digital Technology in Mathematics Education: Why it Works (Or Doesn’t). Research Gate, Jan 2015.