Engaging Your Students During Math

Hi everyone! Do I have a treat for you today! Michelle from Making it as a Middle School Teacher has put together a great post for you....complete with a freebie. Be sure to leave some comments here for her to show her your love, and then hop over to her blog to read more great ideas!

Do you ever think about how you could better engage your students during math time?  I've got some simple, quick, and inexpensive ideas for you to try.

Hey guys!  It's Michelle from Making It As A Middle School Teacher and I am so excited to be here on Stephanie's blog today!  She is an awesome teacher and I love to read her ideas on Teaching in Room 6.

What I have to share with you is not high-tech and it's not fancy.  However, these ideas have worked in my classroom on many occasions, so I hope they'll work for you as well!

1.  Allow students to use a highlighter {or a crayon or color pencil} to mark the important information in word problems.  I don't allow my students to do the computation or record answers in anything other than a pencil, but giving them a different writing tool for part of the lesson makes it seem more fun!

2.  If you can work Post-Its into the lesson, do it!  Whether you use them for collecting and/or graphing data, ordering numbers, or as a ticket out the door, Post-Its are just cool to use and students enjoy the interaction.

3.  Individual white boards are always a crowd-pleaser.  If you have access to them at your school, pull them out as often as you can!  I can't recall a single student who lacked engagement during the use of white boards.  This is also a super-fast way to check student answers by having them hold their boards up on your signal.  You'll find out right away who understands the concept and who doesn't.

4.  During independent working time, send a few students at the time to the board to work out a problem.  Other students keep working and can check their answers after you've made sure the work on the board is correct.  Students always want to write on the board and this gives them an opportunity to do so in an appropriate manner.  Plus, all the attention is not on them since other class members are all working at the same time.

5.  Use a folder per table or group of desks to store the handouts needed for the day.  It seems that students feel special when they take their work from a folder instead of it being passed out to them.  Perhaps they feel like the teacher or that the handout is more important being distributed in this fashion.

6.  Cut an assignment into small sections or cards.  Tape these to the tables or desks and have students rotate through the problems.  There is some movement and noise involved, but this has always been successful for me.  I give students enough time to work without rushing them or wasting time.  Every student always gets right to work so they'll be ready to move to the next problem.  I typically play music as the signal to stop and go - sort of like musical chairs.

I thought I'd offer you a little freebie today as a thanks to Stephanie for allowing me to be here.  I geared the questions to 5th Grade Common Core Standards on fractions.  This is designed to be used like suggestion #6, but could also be used in other ways.

Click the image below to grab your copy!

Enjoy :)

Making It {and smiling},

{Highlighter, Post-It, Folder, and Scissors by The 3AM Teacher.}

Michelle Lundy has been a Middle School Teacher for 6 years, teaching all 3 grade levels, but most of her time has been spent with 7th graders.  She is the author of Making It As A Middle School Teacher.  She also contributes to several collaborative teaching blogs.

Michelle is married with 3 sons, ages 18, 19, and 21.  She also has 4 dogs, a cat, and a classroom pet turtle.


  1. Great ideas...I especially like the folders for papers...what a great way to simplify passing out papers, and that the kids like it is a bonus! Thanks for the fraction freebie too.

    1. Hi Melinda! It does make the process much quicker and easier!

      I hope you enjoy the Fraction Action.

      Making It As A Middle School Teacher

  2. Love this! I love the freebie and will be using that with my class when we get to the fraction unit! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Love this post! Great GUEST!! AND, Great HOST! :)
    What a great freebie to offer! I had a post on my FB page asking about fraction lesson ideas! I will send her the link to this post right now!
    Innovative Connections

  4. I love these ideas, too! I have first and second graders and last year they were IN LOVE with Postits! Things that they normally hated doing became the best thing ever with one little sticky piece of paper. :)

    Marvelous Multiagers!

  5. I LOVE the folders idea! It seems that I waste a lot of time passing out papers, not to mention that other students are waiting for me to get to them. I can't wait to see what time this is going to save! I've been looking for a way to minimize 'paper passing' and this one will be perfect! Also, thanks for the Fraction Action activity :0).


  6. Thank you for your great post! I also love the idea of having papers to pass out in folders. Not only would the kids love this but it has to be a time saver as well. The freebie is great and I can't wait to put it to use during our fraction unit. I'll be moving to 5th grade Math/Science this coming year after 7 years in special ed. so I'm busy creating units and collecting activities. Thanks again!

  7. Love these ideas! I don't teach Math, but my wheels are turning as to how I can adapt them to ESL RLA. Thanks


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