Math Chick

10 Engagement Strategies for the Math Classroom

Saturday, October 26, 2019 3 comments
Engagement strategies are research based and a proven way for students to obtain new knowledge. These strategies are so powerful and allow students to put new knowledge into long term memory! Engagement strategies are for every subject and can be done in every classroom, even in math class! Let’s dive right in and see 10 easy ways you can set the stage to engage in your math classroom!

Know your students likes and interests!

Integrating your students likes and interests into your classroom is one of the 10 engagement strategies for the math classroom. You know that trends come and go, so sometimes it is hard to know what is relevant in a student’s life. For example, a couple of years ago I created an entire activity around Pokemon Go. Do you remember when that was the latest craze? The kids were so excited to analyze data about their favorite game, but over time the happiness faded. Now my students are obsessed with Fortnite. I am sure you have seen the dances and heard the conversations about this addicting game. So I changed the data activity from a Pokemon Go activity to Fortnite activity. The kids absolutely loved it and thought I was the coolest because I knew about Fortnite! If you are not sure what your students like, ask them! Give them a survey or have a conversation with the students to find out what is relevant to them. Students will appreciate that their teacher cares enough to ask and their engagement in your lesson will skyrocket!

Get up and Move!

You would be surprised at how engaging it is for students to get up out of their seat and move! I love musical chairs! You can use a simple worksheet and then every few minutes, play some music and move around.
Moving around out of your seat is a great strategy to bring into your classroom. This one of the 10 engagement strategies for the math classroom.
When the music stops, the students find their new partner and complete the next set of problems. This strategy turns a boring worksheet into a fun and engaging activity. A scavenger hunt is another great way to get kids up out of their seat and moving. I love to use scavenger hunts because they are a loop and students will have to complete the loop correctly in order to finish the scavenger hunt. The loop serves as a self checking activity.




Set the Stage to Engage with a Simple Room Transformation

Room transformations are all the rage in education today but can be very overwhelming to a teacher who has limited money or time. I know because I am one of those teachers! I am here to tell you a little can go along way! Just wearing a shirt or a costume can reel your kids in and get them excited about a new topic! When I first started room transformations, I really called them mini-room transformations because of the scale backed version of my room transformation.  It made me feel better to start out small. This was less intimidating to me. One thing I did was reach out to my school staff. During my first transformation, I emailed and asked if anyone has any Hawaiian decorations or clothes. I received a ton of stuff from all over my school! So all I did was buy Hawaiian leis on Amazon for super cheap and I had instant engagement for my students!
Room Transformations is a wonderful strategy to bring into your classroom.  This one of the 10 engagement strategies for the math classroom.
For my "Deep Dive" room transformation, I asked my staff for black lights and received a few to borrow for the day. I made fish on neon paper, which I pasted around the room and gave my kids highlighters to write with and you would have thought my classroom had transformed into a magical place!


Integrate Technology!

We all know that technology is a huge engagement factor with our students! We live in a very tech advanced world. Students love to use technology in math class. You can incorporate robots into your math class. Ozobots are an awesome tool and students love how easy they are to use and code. Spheros are another fun robot to incorporate. You can go as simple as QR codes (which does integrate technology) or go more complex with a digital escape room! I don’t use the same tech over and over again. I make sure to change it up here and there to pique the students' interest.


Summative Projects or Big Finales!

I love to incorporate big projects at the end of a unit! These particular activities always make me so tired but it is a good tired. I have taken a recipe for slime and turned it into an adding and subtracting fractions project! If the students correctly solve the problems, they will see the recipe for the slime. 
Big Finales are a wonderful addition to bring into your classroom.  This one of the 10 engagement strategies for the math classroom.
I have also made play dough using the same type of activity. Students had to solve all types of fraction operation problems in order to earn the materials to make their own play dough. The kids had a blast and worked so hard to solve those math problems.

Games are always a great Engagement Strategy

Games are such an old school way to engage students, but have you thought about games other than a simple partner game, card game or board game? For example, I had my students play a game to become a Math Jedi. Students had partners and were assigned a character from the Star Wars movies. Students completed the problems and moved their character along the way. I could not believe how hard the students worked in order to simply move their character along the way. That was literally it! They were so engaged and solved super rigorous problems in order to move a piece of paper on the board. How simple is that engagement?? Another time, students pretended to be construction workers to create quadrilaterals with certain areas and perimeter. Students were paid “construction” bucks for a job well done. These students worked so hard for fake money!! How cool is that?
Bringing Games into your classroom is one of the 10 engagement strategies for the math classroom.


Plan a Trip!

I tried really hard this year to plan a field trip about math. This is super hard to do but I am happy to say that this year we are taking a trip to the zoo to learn about math! I know what you are thinking, how could a trip to the zoo be about math? Well, I reached out to our zoo and I asked the person in charge of field trips if they could specifically talk to our students about how math affects the everyday work at the zoo. I asked the zoo to speak about proper enclosures, proper amounts of food, and how the zoo budgets their money. To my surprise the zoo was happily ready to talk to my kids about math at the zoo! After the zoo, we will complete our own math project about animal enclosures with an appropriate enclosure area and perimeter.

Parent Involvement

Get your students’ parents involved! I have invited parents to come and volunteer to help me out during a game or big summative project. During my play dough project, I had a parent volunteer to help me and it was awesome! I have also sent students home to interview their parents on financial literacy topics. It is important to send emails out asking for supplies and/or donate supplies. I have had parents happily donate supplies for big projects!  If the parents are engaged and excited, the students will be too.

Change of Scenery 

Having class outside is one of the 10 engagement strategies for the math classroom.
Sometimes all you need is to change the scenery. Hold class outside one pretty afternoon. Have class in the main hallway. You would be surprised how engaged students are by taking them outside. I have held math class outside a few times. Sometimes we just work in partners on a beautiful day. Other times we have played bowling or kickball! Multiplication fact kickball is so fun!

Stem Integration

This is one of my favorite engagement strategies! I think some teachers are super overwhelmed when you mention STEM but I am here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be overwhelming! STEM is not complex or crazy hard to create. STEM can be as simple as creating a paper circuit to light up a coordinate grid. STEM can also be as simple as building paper cup towers while learning about scatterplot graphs. Sure you can buy huge STEM kits that are super complex to integrate into your math classroom but STEM can also be short, sweet and cheap!
Integrating STEM into your classroom is one of the 10 engagement strategies for the math classroom.


What Will You Do to Engage Your Students? 

 These are just a few of the ways that I engage my students in my math class. I don’t do all of these in one day or even one week. I try to do one of these at least once or twice a week! Your job as a teacher is to become comfortable with one of these strategies and then add on another one once you are feeling comfortable. A teacher who is overwhelmed or not comfortable will not produce the same engagement as a teacher who is comfortable in their own shoes using their choice of familiar engagement strategies. So make sure you are comfortable! Baby steps are the key to trying new things. I did not try all of these at once, this is 17 years in the making! I would love to hear what you decide to try in your classroom! Make sure to tag me in your favorite social media platform!

STEM Wonder Wall of Discovery! Perfect for Makerspace!

Monday, December 31, 2018 No comments
I am finally on the makerspace bandwagon and I cannot wait to implement makerspace within my enrichment time at school. I have been researching and researching and I realized it can be quite expensive to start a makerspace, which is why I have been busy writing grants and Donors Choose projects. One of the grants I wrote is for a mobile makerspace cart that my school can all share and check out when needed. I won this grant and will be putting together the mobile cart very soon. I cannot wait to share it with you! So stay tuned!

How did I come up with the STEM: Wonder Wall of Discovery? 

I knew the mobile makerspace cart would be shared with the whole school and I wanted to create something that would stay in my room, for my kids. I saw an amazing makerspace station on instagram from Teach Oustide the Box. This "one stop makers shop" is absolutely amazing! Here is the link to see it for yourself. This awesome makerspace was the inspiration for my smaller version.  I started researching and trying to figure out how to make a smaller version and found this wonderful smaller version. I am sorry I do not know her name or if she is a teacher but here is the link to another version that helped me with my inspiration.   She used three peg boards to create her version. I loved the magnetic white board on the "one stop makers shop" so I thought about exchanging one of the peg boards for a white board. This is how I came up with my STEM: Wonder Wall of Discovery!
            


Let's Get Down To It! What Materials Did You Use? 

Now that I knew that I was creating a wonder wall with three sides, I started to compile a list of materials needed. The actual wonder wall isn't very expensive but the items used on the wall such as tees or pegs, rubber bands and the marble runs were somewhat expensive when you are buying it all at once. So I turned to an amazing website that helps to make teacher's dreams come true, Donors Choose! Have you ever used Donors Choose? This is a free website that allows teachers to post projects, field trips or professional development for funding. Think of it like a Go Fund Me for teachers. This is how a bulk of the materials were purchased. I bought the rest of the materials myself. Here is a complete list of the materials and links to the materials on Amazon. I do not have an affiliate program with Amazon so these are not affiliated links. 

How Did You Put the Wonder Wall Together?

The first thing I did was get all the materials together, see the link above for the complete material list. Next I painted the peg board black with spray paint. I applied two coats. I let it dry for a day and then began building. 
The white board measured 24 x 36 inches and the peg boards are 24 x 48 inches. We used a table saw (thanks dad) to cut the peg board to match the white board at 24 x 36 inches.  
Then we started putting the screws into the peg board to make the giant geoboard. That looked to be a tedious and timely process, but luckily we had a hand drill. My advice is to get a drill because it cut down the time immensely! While I was drilling in the screws my mom and husband were putting the nuts on the screws. They did this by hand and it went pretty fast. 


We then used a pipe cutter to cut the PVC pipe. I bought a 10 ft long 1 inch PVC pipe and we cut each piece of PVC pipe into 38 inch long pieces. So out of the 10 ft pipe we created 3 pipes that are each 38 inches long. 
We used zip ties to attach the two peg boards to the PVC pipe. We made sure the zip ties were good and tight. If you look closely at this picture you can see how we threaded the zip ties in and out of the peg board. 

Next we attached the white board. The white board we purchased came with a silver frame around the white board. The silver frame had 4 holes that were perfect for zip ties. 


It felt pretty sturdy with just the 4 zip ties in the corners but I wanted to make sure since kids would be using this and you know kids :) So we drilled a hole in the middle of each side and put one more zip tie into the board. 



Finally we put caps on the PVC pipes so that it has a clean look as well as protects the wall from getting items shoved down the pipe. (It is being used by kids :) 
** I did not add this to the materials list because I did not purchase these, but I added wheels to the Wonder Wall. I had wheels from a plastic three drawer tower that I use in my classroom for supplies. I never put the wheels on the three drawer tower so I grabbed those wheels and my husband drilled a hole into the cap on the bottom of the PVC pipe. He made sure to drill a hole small enough so that the wheel would be held tightly into the cap. Now my wonder wall has wheels for easy transportation! **


How are You Going to Store It All? 

If you look at the pictures at the top, you can see pencil boxes used for storage. I made little labels to put on the pencil boxes so that all the materials are organized by color and type (labels were made after the pictures were taken). I will store these pencil boxes and materials on a shelf in my room. 

What are You Going to Do With This Wall?  

I plan on using the geoboard in our unit about shapes. I could hold small group around the big geoboard and students could help me make shapes using the giant geoboard. I can also use the white board during whole group on the carpet or in small group. The white board is magnetic and would be awesome to display fraction pieces while instructing. Science is huge in 5th grade here in Texas and one of the biggest standards is forces and motion, so I love that students can investigate force and motion with the marble run. Mainly the wonder wall will be used for exploration and discovery. I hope that the students will use this wonder wall during indoor recess and also during enrichment time. I have magnetic tangrams and pattern blocks so I am looking into printing out tangram puzzles and pattern block puzzles that students can work through on the magnetic board. 

I would love to see your creations if you chose to make your own version of the wonder wall. Please email me at therealmathchick@gmail.com or tag me at @themathchick5 on Instagram! 

If you have any questions, please feel free to post a comment or question below or you can email me directly therealmathchick@gmail.com or I can also be messaged on Instagram. 

Until Next Time: 
Peace, Love and Math

Jennifer










Star Wars Classroom Reveal and Make Your Mark Interactive Math Bulletin Board

Saturday, August 25, 2018 No comments
Happy Back to School Time!
This week was my first week back in fifth grade math! I am so excited to share my classroom with you guys as well as my newest creation, Make Your Mark Interactive Math Wall Enhanced With Augmented Reality! Let's jump right in!

Star Wars Classroom Reveal! 

This year I was very focused and highly intentional about the functionality in my classroom.  I have been going through the process to become a nationally board certified STEM teacher. Within this process I have learned that your classroom space needs to be student focused.  While it is important to be "eye catching" your classroom also needs to be purposeful and intentional with your expectations, supplies and bulletin boards. 

Procedure Charts


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I created these and had them printed on a poster machine. A friend of mine has a poster machine at their school, so that was my hook up, but you can also take your pdf to Staples and have them printed on poster size paper at the store.

Supplies 

My favorite part of my classroom has to be this three drawer storage cart below! I love this so much! I have one storage cart per group of four desks/students. The bin on top is a trash can, so that students can throw trash away right here in their group instead of walking across the room. The first drawer is the supply drawer. I have put every supply I can think of in this drawer.  This way if a student in the group is lacking a particular supply, they can access it in the drawer.  The second drawer holds the group's math journals and then the bottom drawer in loose leaf paper. 


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I have books on the shelf that students can access. I have also covered my shelves that store math manipulatives and other teacher supplies that are for teacher access only. The cabinets also store teacher only materials. 

Walls and Seating Area

I have created several wall areas that allow me to display student work, student pictures and notes to me as well as pictures from our classroom adventures. 

 


Interactive Bulletin Boards! 

I have displayed two different types of interactive math boards in my room. The first one is from Let's Stick Together. This is an amazing collaborative art project that I fell in love with when I saw it in action in a makers space at a library. You can access it here at Stick Together
Look above the Stick Together sticker mosaic art in the photo and you can see my JEDI posters which highlight the expectations for group work, independent work, partner work and whole class activities. You can get your own JEDI posters here for FREE!! 


The other interactive wall display I created features augmented reality! 

I had one goal when I started this school year and that was to bring the love of math to my students with the help of a few of my “math friends". I was determined to create a wall that would cultivate the love of math by showing how everyone regardless of race or gender, can become a mathematician. My students were in complete awe of these great minds as the pictures came alive with augmented reality! Students were excited to see how an actress was determined to help girls overcome their struggles in math (Danica McKellar) My students loved to see how science fields rely on math (Neil deGrasse Tyson) and how a NFL football player can be a MIT mathematician (John Urschel ) They were even impressed with the “old dudes” (as one of my students said) because “they did all those great things back then, without any technology!” We discussed as a class that we are all going to be members of this “squad” and become mathematicians this year, because anyone can be a mathematician! 
                                                                 
 

 

 

I would love for your to spread our #squadgoals to your classroom! Please join my email list here on the home page of my blog or by using the pop up once you have accessed the blog and this amazing interactive Make Your Mark mathematician wall enhanced with augmented reality will be directly sent to you for FREE!!! This is not available in my TpT store and can only be accessed by joining my email list.

 I love to see my activities in action, so if you are an Instagram user, please tag me in a pic! Follow me @themathchick5

I hope you all have an amazing back to school week as well as a fabulous school year! 
Until Next Time,
Peace, Love and Math

Jennifer 









Properties of Triangles: A Look into All Things Triangles!

Saturday, August 4, 2018 No comments
I absolutely love teaching Geometry! It was my favorite class in high school and in college.  I love it because you can "see" the math and you can "see" how it works. So when I got to teach the attributes of triangles, I was super excited!

Types of Angles, Including Complimentary and Supplementary 

Before we began this part of the unit, we reviewed the types of angles, acute, obtuse and right. We also learned about complimentary and supplementary angles as well.  Since writing equations with variables for the unknown is such a big standard in sixth grade, we wrote equations to find the missing angle in a complimentary angle or a missing angle in a supplementary angle. Something that helped my students remember the difference between complimentary and supplementary was this little statement: "a compliment is always the RIGHT thing to say to someone".  This helped the students remember that complimentary angles add up to a right angle or 90 degrees and that supplementary angles add up to 180 degrees. I also made a scavenger hunt, so that my students could practice finding the unknown angle as well as writing equations to find the unknown. This download comes with the scavenger hunt, foldable to review/teach the types of angels and a homework/ extra practice sheet. You can get your hands on this activity here in my TpT store! 

Interior Angles of a Triangle

This is probably an oldie but goodie, and you may have already heard of this technique, but I love it! I think using ripped corners of a triangle, is an awesome way to teach students that the interior angles of a triangle will always add up to 180 degrees.  Here is what I did. First I made a sheet of paper with a bunch of triangles on it and copied it on bright paper. I made the students letter the triangles A-H, that way they knew which triangle we were working with in our journals. We talked about each triangle and what type of triangle it was, acute, scalene, obtuse, isosceles, right  or equilateral.  Then we predicted what would happen if we ripped off each angle and glued the corners on a straight line.  Would the angles together equate to a right angle, obtuse angle or acute? How about a straight line?  A majority of the students thought that the angles together would be a little more than a right angle.

              


They were shocked when the first triangle resulted in 180 degrees or a straight line. Then we predicted on another triangle. Again, most of the students thought it would be bigger than a right angle but not a straight line. They were wrong, it was a straight line! Around the fourth example, everyone knew that every triangle had angles that when added together resulted in 180 degrees or a straight line!

Relationship Between the Sides of a Triangle and the Angles of a Triangle

This was a fairly simple lesson that allowed students to discover the relationship between the sides and angles of a triangle. I handed out a half sheet of paper that had a few triangles on the front of the page. I asked students to get out a yellow crayon or marker and a red crayon or marker. I first asked students to outline the longest side of each triangle in red and outline the shortest side in yellow.  I gave them a few minutes to complete this task. Then together we discussed what angles we thought were the biggest and which angles were the smallest. We used protractors for this part. We circled the largest angles in red and the smallest angles in yellow.  Then I asked the students to form a statement about what they noticed about the relationship between the sides and the angles. I let them brainstorm the relationship together with their shoulder partners and then we discussed as a class. We came up with, the largest side is always directly across from the largest angle and the smallest/shortest side is always directly across from the smallest angle. You can get this simple little hand out for FREE HERE! 

Triangle Inequality Theorem

This sounds so fancy doesn't it??? I had to do some deep research on this one! Bottom line is two sides of a triangle, when added together, will be longer than the third side of the triangle. So A + B > C and B + C > A and C + A > B.  Now that I knew what the concept was, I had to figure out a way to teach it. To keep my thoughts straight, I decided to do guided instruction using Google docs and linking cubes. This lesson turned out fantastic! I was pretty proud of myself. To prep, I made sticks of 2,3,4,5 and 6 with the linking cubes.  I made enough sticks so that each person had a set of sticks. Then I outlined the investigation in Google docs and shared it with my students.  I love to predict, so I asked the students, can any three line segments be put together to create a triangle. The majority of the students said yes, any three line segments can be formed into a triangle. They were all so surprised when they didn't form a triangle. 
 

If you would like to do this activity click here to get a copy of the Google doc that I used for guided instruction! CLICK HERE! 

Other Cool Activities! 

To wrap up our Triangle Unit, we played the two games here! These two games let students practice finding a third angle as well as practicing if three sides will make a triangle. These games are yours FREE here on my blog! 

We also completed a Google interactive project and a Digital Breakout- Rainforest Rescue! You can get both of these on my TpT store!



If you have any questions about how to use Google projects or how to share the projects with your students, my previous blog post will be helpful! Click here to learn more!  

I love to see my activities in action, so if you are an Instagram user, please tag me in a pic! Follow me @themathchick5 

Until next time! 
Peace, Love and Math