10 Tips for Improving Student Engagement in Math During Whole Group in 2024

As elementary teachers, our goal is to make learning fun to support our students in developing a love for school! That’s why many of us became educators! Student engagement in math is especially important!

We maximize motivation in math and improve student engagement in math (as well as other content areas) through several techniques. Some examples are high-interest learning experiences, songs, dances, and collaborative learning opportunities. We know that when students are engaged in their learning, they consistently demonstrate better learning outcomes as a result. The question is clear then. How do we improve student engagement in math to maximize student learning? Learn all about student engagement and get answers to that question below!

student bored in math class

What is Student Engagement?

Student engagement is a child’s interest in and excitement for school. When students are engaged, they are invested in their learning. This makes them more likely to be able to persevere through challenging problems.

engaged students at guided math table

Why is Student Engagement Important?

Student engagement (in math and other content areas) is incredibly important. It causes students to…

  • have a better attitude toward school.
  • participate in class.
  • complete and submit their homework.
  • persevere through more challenging problems.
  • produce higher quality work.
  • attend school more consistently.
  • develop a deeper understanding of the content.
  • perform better on standardized assessments.

What Does Student Engagement Look Like?

Student engagement (in math and other content areas) can look like many different things. Some examples include:

  • actively listening
  • asking and answering questions
  • using class hand signals to communicate
  • nodding or shaking their head
  • looking at the person who is talking
  • laughing during a funny math video
  • following teacher cues
  • telling a partner how they solved a problem
  • reading math problems
  • writing about which strategy they selected and why
  • solving a math problem using math manipulatives
  • presenting a math project to the class

How do you Improve Student Engagement in Math?

You can improve student engagement in math and increase motivation in math by…

2nd grade and 3rd grade students in math workshop

10 Tips for Improving Student Engagement in Whole Group Math

Here are 10 tips for improving student engagement during whole group math instruction:

1. Set clear expectations at the beginning of the school year.

At the start of the school year, it is essential to set clear expectations in all content areas. Consider brainstorming as a class what expected and unexpected behavior looks like during the different parts of the math block. For example, you would discuss the expectations for the different parts of Guided Math Workshop if you use that. In this case, you’d create an anchor chart for the mini lesson, centers, guided math group, and closing.

2. Reinforce expectations and hold students accountable.

Teaching the expectations at the beginning of the year is not enough. You need to also reinforce them throughout the first month and whenever it seems like students need a reminder. If students are not following the expectations, then you must hold students accountable throughout the year as needed. This progresses from reminders to consequences.

3. Shorten the length of your whole group instruction.

Your whole group lesson should be limited to a brief mini lesson. Elementary students do not have the attention or stamina required to sit through a long whole group lesson.

4. Utilize technology.

It’s no secret that students love using technology. Instructional tools like videos, interactive white board lessons, and PowerPoint lessons are a great way to keep kids engaged.

5. Assign learning partners.

The fifth strategy for improving student engagement in math is to assign learning partners. Assigning learning partners makes it so students can stop and talk about math concepts and skills throughout the lesson. This holds students accountable to maintaining their attention. They know they will need to discuss with a partner so they are more apt to pay attention.

6. Employ hand signals.

Hand signals allow the whole class to participate and communicate their ideas during whole group lessons. It also helps the teacher evaluate student understanding during the lesson.

7. Distribute white boards.

Handing out white boards to students empowers them to actively problem solve throughout the lesson. Consider having a number talk be a part of your whole group lesson. Students can use the white boards to record their thinking and share out their strategy.

8. Incorporate math supplies and tools.

Elementary students love using math supplies and tools! Hands on math manipulatives take every lesson to the next level.

9. Maintain consistent routines.

Maintaining consistent routines reduce off-task behavior and increase smooth transitions. When students know what to expect, your math block is much more likely to go smoothly.

10. Adopt the Math Workshop model.

Math workshop is a fast-paced model for how to run your math block. It includes 10-15 blocks of time so students are constantly moving and reigniting their focus.

Math Resources for 1st-5th Grade Teachers

We hope you found this information about improving student engagement in math helpful! If you need math resources for your classroom, then check out these time-saving math collections below! They include printable and digital resources that were designed specifically for your grade level.

1st grade math membership 2nd grade math membership
3rd grade math membership 4th grade math membership
5th grade math membership Elementary Math Resource Collection

Try a Collection of our Math Resources for Free!

In closing, we hope this information about improving student engagement when teaching elementary math is helpful. We know how important student engagement in math is and are so excited to share this information with you! Next, we would love for you to try these math resources with your students. They offer elementary students opportunities to practice grade level concepts and skills in fun and engaging ways. You can download grade level worksheets and other math freebies in our free printable math activities for elementary teachers.

Check out these other math resources!

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Try these free math activities with your elementary students!