What Works in Teaching Math

There are manipulatives. There are student-centered strategies. There are cooperative activities. There are student-led discussions and peer learning. There is music and sometimes, there are even movements employed to teach math. And of course, there are the old fashioned teacher-directed practices: The teacher first demonstrates, and then provides opportunities for students to practice (worksheets and drills). When it comes to learning basic math, evidence shows that direct instruction still works best and the other learner-centered methods may actually be harming especially children who have initial difficulties in math. This is the result of a longitudinal study involving more than 13,000 children in the United States:

Some of the methods we have now may sound more "fun" than the traditional ways of teaching. What actually works, however, is the old-fashioned explicit teacher-directed approach.