Visual Learning & Teaching in the Math Classroom

When faced with a challenging math problem, it’s likely that your natural reaction is to cringe, experience a hot flash, and immediately begin to search for the nearest exit!  However, if you allow yourself to think differently about the problem at hand, you shouldn’t have as much to fear.  There are many tools available to you to help you better conceptualize the problem, and therefore help lead you to the solution.

For example, take the following problem; “please show how two consecutive triangular numbers when added together create a square number”.  Traditionally, expectations might be to show the solution in numerical or written form.  However, look at how the drawings below show an understanding of the problem and the process of getting to a solution:

BP1 Dots

BP1 Grid

There seems to be a lot of pressure on students to do math the “right” way, and to prove their understanding in a very specific, often formulaic way (at least that was my personal experience throughout school).  The above example shows how easy it can be to show understanding of a concept without having to be incredibly precise in a formulaic sense.  In fact, there are math advocates out there promoting the concept of removing much of the language, and heavy use of words from the math classroom, in favor of a more visually focused approach.  Check out this video:


We have a great opportunity to evolve the learning experience in today’s classrooms, and visual learning can be a big step in the right direction.  There is no perfect way of teaching math, in fact, teachers are constantly searching for new ways, check out this article to learn more!


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