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For Teachers Updated April 19, 2018

5 Tips to Help Get Students Engaged in High School Math

By The Room 241 Team November 4, 2012

It’s a high school math teacher’s job to come up with innovative and creative ways to engage all students, even the disinterested ones. Students who find a lesson stimulating not only retain information better, but they may even develop a passion for math.

Here are five ideas on how to keep students involved in math lessons.

Relate to the real world

Most students do not believe that they will use what they are learning in high school math ever again. To remedy this problem, a teacher needs to find a way to relate what they are teaching to the real world. When students can see that there is real-life value to what is being taught, they are more apt to actually pay attention and get involved.

Give students choices

Another way to ensure student interaction is to give them choices. Students can decide if they want to work in groups or by themselves. Students can choose to divide into teams of 3-4 members each. After a math problem is given, students can work on it as a team. The first team to get the problem correct gets a point. At the end of the class, teachers can reward the highest scoring team with no homework!

Provide a homework menu for tonight’s assignment! Students can pick problems to solve for homework from a menu bank with a variety of problems, however they are required to solve a certain amount. This provides students with some freedom over what to practice.

Use props

Whenever possible, teachers should involve props to demonstrate the formulas and methods they are teaching. Props will help students with a variety of learning styles, such as visual, haptic, and kinesthetic. By including the senses of sight and touch, more students will be able to understand what is being taught and actually retain the information.

Find problems with more than one answer

With math problems, there is usually a right answer and a wrong answer. This can make it difficult to promote engagement and discussion among students. A great way to engage students is to find math problems that may only have one answer but have more than one way to arrive at the answer. When the problem is assigned, let students know that there are multiple ways to solve it, and then challenge them to see how many ways they can come up with.

Make students feel safe

If students are afraid to speak up for fear of getting made fun of by the other students, they will remain silent, whether they know the answer or not. To create a safe and friendly environment for learning, teachers need to make it clear that any negative behavior is not allowed. This should be done from day one.

Creating a high school math classroom with engaged, interactive students is not an easy task. However, the effort will be rewarded with a better learning environment for students and an easier life for teachers. If you want to better meet the needs of your learners through a developmental, constructivist approach then you should learn more about our MEd degree concentration in math education.

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