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Easing Math Anxiety

Page history last edited by Leecy Wise 12 years, 2 months ago


Math anxiety is a learned psychological response to math, which interferes with a student's ability to perform math. It is not a reflection of a student's true ability in math. There are a number of strategies a student can use to overcome the anxiety response. (http://www.counseling.txstate.edu/resources/shoverview/bro/math.html)


Anxiety comes from uncertainty and fear. You are not anxious when asked to write down the solution to 2+2=.


Reviewing all of the suggestions for relieving math anxiety, the simplest step we can take in the short time we have with our students is to have them experience success without feeling threatened. 


1.   Math is, to a great extent, an accumulative discipline. Without a solid foundation in basic arithmetic, students are likely to feel lost, scared, uncertain and defeated.

Approach: Give students a lot of enjoyable, private practice working with addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and their application in solving problems and equations. Get the foundation built!



·      http://www.aplusmath.com/ - Flash cards and java games that provide hours of practice, practice, practice.

·      http://www.mathplayground.com/games.html - Lots of games. (Millionaire, algebra scales, making change)

·      http://www2.scholastic.com/browse/article.jsp?id=4342 - Offline games that teach math.

·      http://www.yourteacher.com/browse-lessons.php?courseSubject=prealgebrahelp - Video clips that teach math concepts and operations.


2.   There are a lot of myths about math ability. One of the biggest has people believing that we are born with the talent or intelligence or ability to compute. Another is that you have to be smarter than most to do math. Another is that men are better than women at math. On and on.


Approach: Survey students’ attitudes and beliefs. Synthesize the research that tears down the myths. Provide true-life stories about people who proved the myths to be wrong. Show ways in which math is used in daily life and provide real-life situations where students can immediately apply the math they are learning. 


A very important factor to consider in learning math or anything is that we have multiple intelligences (Gardner). We learn and integrate information in many different ways – at least nine. It would make sense that people with mathematical/logical intelligences would process number concepts differently from those with strong naturalistic, body/kinesthetic, or musical intelligences. Therefore, teach math to some through music! Teach math through sports. Teach math through nature! 



·      http://terri.clarityconnect.com/mathmyths.html - A downloadable survey.

·      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9ehz99Kzn0 - CBS news on YouTube

·      http://terri.clarityconnect.com/mathmyths.html True or false myths.

·      http://www.txstate.edu/slac/math/skills/12Myths.pdf - Twelve math myths with rebuttal.

·      http://www.learner.org/interactives/dailymath/ - How do numbers affect everyday decisions? GED level?

·      http://www.khake.com/page56.html - How You Use Math at Work.

·      http://www.thomasarmstrong.com/multiple_intelligences.htm - Multiple Intelligences summary

·      http://www.bgfl.org/bgfl/custom/resources_ftp/client_ftp/ks3/ict/multiple_int/questions/questions.cfm - Multiple Intelligences test.

·      http://www.math.niu.edu/~rusin/uses-math/music/ - Helpful article with ideas on how to match music to math.

·      http://oncampus.richmond.edu/academics/education/projects/webunits/math/sport.html - Mathletics - Math in sports.

·      http://www.miqel.com/fractals_math_patterns/visual-math-natural-fractals.html - Fractals offer one of the most astounding features of math in nature!

·      http://video.google.com/videosearch?client=safari&rls=en-us&q=math+in+nature&oe=UTF-8&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=X&oi=video_result_group&resnum=4&ct=title#client=safari&rls=en-us&q=math%20in%20nature&oe=UTF-8&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=X&oi=video_result_group&resnum=4&ct=title&start=20 - Real Life Math video

·      http://mathcentral.uregina.ca/beyond/articles/Cooking/Cooking1.html - Cooking and math (a bit advanced, but interesting.)


3.   Math uses terms differently than other disciplines do. A term like “factor” can cause confusion, for example. 

Approach: Introduce terms in context. Have students complete vocabulary activities, bingo, crosswords, and other games to reinforce vocabulary.



·      http://www.interactivestuff.org/match/math.phtml - Concentration with math terms and symbols.

·      http://www.mathwords.com/a_to_z.htm - A to Z. Click on a term and the explanation opens with images.

·      http://www.cut-the-knot.org/glossary/atop.shtml - Comprehensive math glossary with links and explanations.

·      http://home.blarg.net/~math/deflist.html - Definitions and explanations





with many more links than those below

·      http://www.mathplayground.com/math_millionaire.html  - Math Milllionaire

·      http://www.mathplayground.com/percent_shopping.html - Percent shopping

·      http://www.mathplayground.com/algebraic_reasoning.html - algebraic reasoning

·      http://schooltimegames.com/Mathematics/MP_CountCubes.html - Count the cubes




with many more links than those below

·      http://schooltimegames.com/Mathematics/MP_QuickMath.html - Add the operation quickly.

·      http://schooltimegames.com/Mathematics/MP_BuildingBlocks.html - Building blocks

·      http://schooltimegames.com/Mathematics/MP_QuickCalculate.html - Quick calculate


with many more links than those below

·      http://www.mathplayground.com/wordproblems.html - Word problems

·      http://www.mathplayground.com/GrandSlamMath1.html - Grand Slam math

·      http://www.mathplayground.com/howto_fractions_diffden.html - Fractions video ***

·      Click on other options in the left hand column.

·      http://math.rice.edu/~lanius/Lessons/ - Check the levels GED on down.


·      http://www.mathguide.com/projects/ - Several Math Student Projects with clear instructions

·      http://home.comcast.net/~djrosen/litlist/math.html - ABE and GED Numeracy/Mathematics Resources

·      http://www.convertit.com/Go/ConvertIt/ - Convert anything to anything

·      http://www.mathsisfun.com/length-conversion.html - Convert lengths

·      http://www.purplemath.com/modules/ - GED – Algebra lessons

·      http://www.trinity.wa.edu.au/plduffyrc/subjects/maths/mismath.htm - Misconceptions, Myths and Tricks in Mathematics


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