Beat the summer learning slump – with one final great assignment

July 14, 2014 — Leave a comment

Children learn best through doing – this is one of the cornerstones of our philosophy. We’re also firm believers in the idea that learning and fun are not only compatible, they are mutually supportive.

Let’s make students’ assignments even more interesting this summer, and beat the learning slump by having them find answers to the most common question they pose.

“What am I going to use maths for in real life?”

This summer, your students are researchers, and you will be their captive audience. Have them find at least five areas where maths is working in real life, then make a project to present come September. (For example, how many grains of sand are there on the beach? How much money does the campsite make every summer? How long does it take to drive to Granny’s house? How many people watched the World Cup? Count the petals on a flower – why is it that it is frequently 3, 5, 8, 13, 21… i.e. the Fibonacci sequence?)

This project could take any form the student likes:

  • It could be a poster with pictures and drawings. (Or a comic strip – superhero themes are popular with boys and girls alike.)
  • It could be a slideshow. (Bonus points: Best one gets to be your in-class screensaver for September.)
  • It could be invisible (but the student has to present it and explain to the class what it is and why it is invisible.)
  • It could be in 3-D, if they decide to build models from paper or play-dough to bring to class. (The parents would love helping out with that, trust us. Your students might actually have to tell their Mum and Dad to leave them to work on their own.)
  • It could be a story, or a demonstration – maybe a few students would like to get together as a group and act out their project in front of the class? (Teamwork is not a skill you only learn at University, after all.)(Extra-super bonus points if the children put it in rhyme – it can be your new class song!)

Bring it a step further – maybe you can make it a joint project and have your students start both maths and English with a bang in September. And the more interactive the challenge is, the better! (There is a lot of scientific evidence to support the idea – this article on “embodied cognition” from The Fuse is a must-read.)

Emphasise the FUN! This isn’t a competition (although, of course, gold stars and chocolate don’t go out of style,) and hopefully your students would love an assignment that gives them freedom of expression and the ability to create something from scratch.

(BTW, for those of you who are parents as well, or want to give advice for fun learning activities to Mums and Dads, check out our complementary post with summer learning ideas.)

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