Making math learning fun (and effective)

Dewi Kurniati, S.Pd – SD Kalimati, Sumbawa Barat

In many countries around the world, least of all Indonesia, it can be difficult to engage student interest in learning math. National exam results in Indonesia, particularly for grade four students, indicate that primary school numeracy scores are still low.

In Kalimati, Sumbawa Barat in West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) province, early grades teacher Dewi Kurniati is passionate about educating children and improving the learning outcomes of students – particularly when it comes to basic numeracy. Recalling her favourite high-school teacher, Dewi believes strongly in the importance of learning media and games to stimulate student learning and interest.

“My high school teacher loved to give me and the other students games. He always rewarded those of us who got the highest score in math lessons. I used to ask him if he loved teaching us every day – he inspired me to become a teacher myself. I want to be a teacher that inspires her students”.

With support from the INOVASI program’s first pilot Guru BAIK, Dewi has been able to continue improving her teaching practice and ideas – with a focus on problem solving, creativity and local solutions, moving away from ‘conventional’ practices that may not work. Remembering a good practice that worked for her during her earlier education, she decided to explore how this could be applied in her own classroom.

Dewi (middle) shares her ideas with other teachers.

“My students often don’t read the full question on the board, and only see the numbers I’ve written. Therefore, they are often confused when it comes time to read the full problem or text, whether it’s for multiplication, division, subtraction or addition”.

“I always try to choose simple methods that I can apply consistently. And most importantly, children understand what I’m describing. For me, although this method requires me to move around here and there. Even though it is easier and less tedious if I use the lecture method, it may not work for the students”.

Dewi’s calls her classroom innovation ‘Toro Share’. Made of bamboo, Toro is a glass that is often used by the people of Sumbawa as a substitute for a drinking glass. Dewi found this to be a cheap and effective tool, as she could bring it from home. Using several Toro labelled with different numbers, she encouraged students to recognise numbers more easily and calculate quickly.

Said Dewi, “these props can not only be used to learn about division, but also addition, subtraction and multiplication”.

Dewi credits her training through Guru BAIK in Sumbawa Barat for helping her better problem solve classroom learning challenges and make learning richer and easier for troubled students. “Attending this workshop was like waking from a long sleep! Although I already know what I should do, I didn’t know the steps to take to achieve it and solve the learning problem. After joining the workshops, now I know better what to do. I am also more confident that my children can learn better”.

Wanting to share her idea more widely, Dewi entered a submission in the INOVASI NTB Innovations Drive, running from April to July this year. The judging panel were impressed by her idea, selecting her as the winner of the numeracy category – out of a pool of more than 30 numeracy submissions.

Making math learning fun (and effective)