Teaching Strategies to Engage Math Students

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  • 0:03 What Is Engagement?
  • 0:54 Replace the Teacher
  • 2:01 Practice Board Work
  • 2:29 Active Response Strategies
  • 3:21 Use Technology
  • 4:21 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Tammy Galloway

Tammy teaches business courses at the post-secondary and secondary level and has a master's of business administration in finance.

In this lesson, we'll define engagement as it relates to students. We'll also discuss several teaching strategies that help to engage math students. Check your understanding with a brief quiz.

What Is Engagement?

Several parents have been complaining about a new math teacher, Mr. Ryan. Principal Cortez decides to visit Mr. Ryan's room, and he observes, for over an hour, students writing down various math equations while Mr. Ryan explains each thoroughly. Mr. Ryan continually tells the students, 'When I write, you write.' After the lesson, Principal Cortez has a talk with Mr. Ryan. He explains that, while the material presented in the lecture was accurate, students were only listening and taking notes, and they were bored. Overall, the lesson lacked student engagement.

Student engagement is defined as physical or mental participation and involvement in learning. Principal Cortez provides several suggestions to Mr. Ryan to engage his math students. Let's take a closer look at these strategies now.

Replace the Teacher

Mr. Cortez's first suggestion is to replace the teacher, but not literally! With this engagement strategy, the teacher briefly provides instruction on a math topic, and then students work on math problems individually or together. Afterwards, students explain their work, theories, and strategies to the class - almost like a teacher would.

Many times, teachers lecture, lecture, and lecture; they do all the work, and the students become inattentive. Research shows students' attention spans closely follow their ages. If your students are 15 years of age, their focus lasts about 15 minutes. After this time, teachers should incorporate an activity to increase engagement. Replacing the teacher benefits students in two ways:

  1. Students get a mental break from lecturing
  2. Teachers can check for understanding as students explain their answers

Mr. Ryan adds that this strategy will also give him a break. Principal Cortez agrees and suggests that, as students are working on math problems, Mr. Ryan walk around the room, review students' work, and offer help as needed.

Practice Board Work

Principal Cortez's next suggestion is to have students come up to the board to work out problems. First, simply walking to the board breaks up the monotony of sitting down for the entire class period. Secondly, it provides students an opportunity to confirm what they've learned. Third, in many instances, students may have a different strategy in working out a problem that other students understand better. Lastly, the teacher can correct mistakes or a lack of understanding immediately.

Active Response Strategies

''Have you ever heard of active response strategies, Mr. Ryan?' asked Principal Cortez. Mr. Ryan shakes his head no. Active response strategies (ARS) are feedback techniques that prompt responses from all students.

Examples include:

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