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3 Student Engagement Strategies To Mathematize Any Activity

Math is everywhere and in everything, but the math experiences that students are exposed to are often very limited. From worksheets and textbook problems, to activities that focus only on the calculations, many math experiences are not engaging to students in a dynamic way. This lack of engagement is a contributing factor to the critically low proficiency rates across the nation.  

We have to change students' relationship with math, and one way to do that is by changing the types of math experiences they have. You can transform any activity into a dynamically active math experience that motivates students through the learning. Here are three ways you can put math at the core of any activity:

1. Use Math to Add INTRIGUE

Activities that treat math as an add-on fail to engage students. To make sure you are putting math at the core of any activity, start by asking the question, "How can math add an interesting twist on the activity?"

2. INTERACT With Math in a New Way

A key to offering a unique experience for students is making sure they are interacting with math in a new way. Put down the paper and pencil, hide the worksheets, and get students active. When students are emotionally and physically invested, they are engaging the experiential and episodic knowledge neural subsystem of learning.  The more memorable the experience, the more powerful the learning opportunity.

3. Use Math to INFORM Decisions

Don't fall into the trap of ending the activity at the calculation, because that is only the beginning. Learning should be active and rich with decision making. Students should use math to make decisions and solve new problems creatively! 

To keep these steps in mind when creating or analyzing learning experiences, download this printable poster, which comes in full-color and printer-friendly versions:

Three I's to Mathematize Poster [PDF]

Three I's Poster Pic

If you'd like to learn more about student engagement and the "Three I's to Mathematize," listen to the recent episode of the Inside Our MIND podcast, featuring MIND's Lead Mathematician Brandon Smith.

student engagement resources page

Brian LeTendre

About the Author

Brian LeTendre is the Director of Content and Communications at MIND Research Institute. In addition to orchestrating content for MIND, he is an author, podcaster and avid gamer.


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