Engaging Mathematics

26 September 2013
The most important thing to me as a teacher is engaging my students in the classroom.  Engaged students learn more.  Period.  And I thought I was doing a pretty good job of it in math.  I mean, my Interactive Math Journals are completely hands-on, we use Cootie Catchers in our stations, we play hopscotch to learn our order of operations, we made posters to study our math concepts, we get up an moving during every math class, we even made Angry Birds to study volume and surface area ... I thought I was doing it all.

And then this week, while at a workshop analyzing our testing data, I was looking at the results from the student engagement surveys (the students complete these surveys for reading, writing, and math right before they do their yearly standardized testing.)  I was saddened.  Two of my students said they don't enjoy math, and another two said they only sometimes enjoy math.  That equated about one quarter of my students.  And not surprisingly, these four students also did not meet the provincial standard on the test.  Heartbroken.  I went home and decided something had to change.

I have always done reading engagement and interest surveys at the beginning of the year, but I hadn't thought about doing them in math.  So, last night I made a math engagement survey and we completed them today in class.  This weekend I will go through the surveys and analyze the students' honest answers.  I'm hoping, if I can pinpoint those students who are not engaged in math class right from the beginning, I can begin to work with them more closely.  These aren't necessarily the students who struggle in math (I already know and work closely with those students).  These are the students who might fall between the cracks ... and with a little extra work from me to find out what motivates them, include their interests a little more in math class, and develop their leadership skills in math, well, I'm hoping that just might win them over.

Just click on the picture below or HERE to grab a copy for yourself and your students ... it could be that little difference you were looking for and didn't even know it.

Happy Thursday!


  1. I love this post. I am a new fourth grade teacher this year and am really trying to help my student love math by making it more engaging for them; however, I am struggling to do that with the math program my district uses (Go Math). It moves so quickly (a new concept everyday with little to no review of previously taught concepts even fourth grade concepts) and is a worksheet everyday. Do you have any suggestions that would help me? I am doing interactive notebooks when I can as well as some math centers too. Thanks!

    1. I try to plan every lesson with a hands-on or kinesthetic activity for the students. We don't really follow a text book, and daily worksheets are discouraged, so a lot of thought goes into our planning. I try to do a journal entry once a week. We also use a lot of task cards (once every week or two). My students also really love problem-solving activities where they work with a partner on a large open-ended question. It is a lot of work, but talking to my other division members and coworkers at the school really helps - that collaboration usually results in new ideas. :) The fact that you are engaged in the process to make it more engaging for the students proves that you are on the right track, Alley. :)

    2. I try to find one interesting activity a day that I would want to do in the math classroom. If I don't think it would be fun, it's probably not.

      I do quite a bit of "google-ing" on the weekends to find the perfect activity to incorporate with my students.

    3. Thank you both! I really appreciate the suggestions and will start incorporating as soon as I can!

  2. This is great. I have been looking for an engagement sheet like this, I need to know if my students think my classroom is engaging so I can accommodate.

  3. Love this idea. It is a great way to ensure the needs of all students are being met. Thank you so much for sharing.

    The Math Maniac

  4. Love this, Jen! Thanks for sharing it :)
    Fun in Room 4B

  5. Thank you so much! This is perfect for me to give after our first benchmark! I also would love to give it back to them at the end of the year so they can see how the felt at the start.