# Making Math Relevant and Engaging

Use Manipulatives

Educators understand the often use manipulatives to increase student engagement, especially when introducing a topic.  Looking back at my own experience,  the times I enjoyed or expressed interest in math were when my teacher used manipulatives in the classroom.  Using manipulatives creates student engagement, which often leads to increased learning.  I still remember using the base-ten blocks and geometric solids to learn math back in the day. A couple specific examples:

Base ten-blocks

Balances – Mathfour video

Use Technology

Students use technology everyday.  But teachers need to appropriately (that’s key) utilize technology to increase student learning.  Most curriculum publishers have a technology component (like math games or instruction slides to show students) already part of their program.  There is a wealth of knowledge and information available online for teachers to use.  Personally, I’ve used Youtube, Power Point, Audacity, Google Docs, Movie Maker, and Flip Cam regularly.  There are many more tools available to use – I just wrote down what what was used last year.  I’ve placed a few links below if you’re looking additional content. Using Google Docs

Multimedia in Mathematics – http://davidwees.com/content/presentations

Use Practical Examples and Show Relevancy

Students are much more motivated to complete problems that are relevant and applicable to their lives.  A student wants to know why they are learning specific math concepts.  If students aren’t sure about where or how to apply what they are learning, what motivation is there to stay engaged?  Finding practical math problems is important and gives students an opportunity to apply their learning.  Even having students create and solve their own problems is a good start. Students need to understand that what they are learning in math class is relevant.    I tend to show my students the following video from IBM.  Also, during the first week of school I generally show the students a macro picture of what they will be learning throughout the year and what skills that they will need to proceed through each unit.

IBM Math Commerical

I also ask the students the following questions:

• Can I think of a story problem where I could apply this concept?
• How will learning this help me in the future?

Play Games

Play games?  Are you kidding?  I think at times, educators and administrators downplay the importance of playing mathematical games.  Games give students an opportunity to use learned skills, such as, but not limited to:  numeracy, collaborative teamwork, and critical thinking skills. There are online math games and boardgames that are relevant to what is being taught in the classrooms.  For example, games like Battleship can help teach algebra quadrants and axis. An example: Board Games

Disclaimer (unfortunate but necessary) :  The thoughts and opinions expressed in these pages are my own, and not necessarily the opinions of my employers.

## Author: Matt Coaty

I've taught elementary students for the past 14 years. I enjoy reading educational research and learning from my PLN. Words on this blog are my own.

## 7 thoughts on “Making Math Relevant and Engaging”

1. This is so interesting. What struck me the most was “is there a bedtime equivalent to reading”. In fact I’ve been thinking about that for years (as both an educator and mother of 4). I found the answer. I have a poster on the ceiling ( it has numberline, 100 chart, 10 fram, directions, shapes) about their bed and a laser light. A few nights a week instead of reading we play math games on the ceiling- they take turns with using the laser light to play the math games. My kids started calling it “Writing on the Ceiling”. Why am I telling you this? I have uploaded the poster and tons of games to play with it on my website: http://www.math-games-and-activities-at-home.com/math-games-sky-writing.html- I am not really trying to plug my site here- I just stumbled upon your site- I love it. If you ever want to chat about math email me!

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1. Thanks for the comment. The idea of “writing on the ceiling” is unique and might be something that I utilize in the future. Just a thought … what about using math games (board games / iPad / computer) for homework?

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2. Thanks for the nice post! We are working on initiative to make math learning more engaging and relevant using real world stories and data to increase the engagement and interests. We are still in process of building it, where it also allows students to learn/realize about their interests and at the same time learn math from it. If it interests you, please checkout http://www.tuvalabs.com, and send us any feedback if any.

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