Having trouble engaging students!

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by robinsky, Nov 26, 2010.

  1. robinsky

    robinsky Rookie

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    Nov 26, 2010

    I'm in my 4th year teaching middle school math, and I feel like I'm burning out this year. I've always had trouble keeping the whole class engaged, and this year I've been told I need to amp that up, to have more hands-on activities, to make it more interesting and engaging. I need some concrete ideas on how to do this! My kids love it when I have review games, but that only seems to work for review, on regular days to learn new concepts it's hard to do that.

    Anyone have activities to help engage all the kids, not just the motivated ones but the ones who don't really want to be there?

    Thanks in advance!
     
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  3. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Nov 27, 2010

    Some projects I did when I taught 7th grade:

    -Through A to Z, I got them math pen pals from the UK. Each of my 180 kids got a pen pal. At one point, we exchanged a list of prices, and the kids converted from the Pound (I think it was before the Euro) and the dollar, and attempted to explain any radical differences in pricing.

    - They did a scale drawing of any room in their house. I printed up some furniture prices (with dimensions) from the Ikea web site, and gave them a budget.

    - I had them watch an episode of Cyberchase on PBS and write it up. (That one was a little below their level, but they still talk about it, and now they're Juniors!)

    - When we did simple interest, we found a house in the paper and "bought" it, pretending it was the house across the street from the school. We figured out the monthly mortgage payments and the total payback; they were stunned to find that they would pay for a house 2.5 times over! Then I did the same thing using Pert, and showed them how compound interest changed the numbers a bit.

    -A lot of little things matter with kids that age. For example, I always order personalized stickers from vistaprint, and the kids (of all ages) adore them!!!! Also, my test questions used names of the kids I teach (but never in a negative way-- things like "Krista and Cheyanne went shopping....")

    So much of middle school math is concrete-- very few "When are we going to use this???" topics. So I think it helps to keep it real-- use the newspaper circulars for Black Friday if you're doing discounts and percents, that sort of thing.

    Does that help at all?
     
  4. paperheart

    paperheart Groupie

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    Nov 27, 2010

    I'm jotting down your ideas, Alice. (Do you have an electronic version of the Ikea/scale drawing project?)

    Make up a fake crime and a suspect. make math problems as clues. Have a place value chart (great to do with decimals!). At the end of each clue have directions such as "put the tenths place of your answer into the tenths place in the place value chart". After a series of clues the place value chart will be filled out. Then tell students the latitude and longitude of the city where the suspect is hiding is a certain combination of the numbers from the place value chart. (i.e. tenths/hundreds degrees N and thousands/thousandths degrees E. Each combo is a two digit number)

    I've done about ten rounds of this where students work with partners and follow the suspect to various cities. You can even make powerpoint news updates for each set (use sound).

    That was hard to explain so feel free to ask questions.

    In general, combine science/math and art/math together for certain lessons, use magazines and newspapers, games, download powerpoint game templates from the internet...
     
  5. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Nov 27, 2010

    No,sorry. My computer crashed that summer and I lost everything.
     
  6. LastPlaceJason

    LastPlaceJason Rookie

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    Nov 27, 2010

    The problem with engaging all students- interests are too varied. I'd suggest finding 2-4 things each individual kids likes or enjoys like hobbies, etc. Simply incorporating a handful of those things in everyday lessons will help keep kids engaged. I will usually tailor this to kids that have trouble staying engaged. Over time, it has a pretty good effect on the class as a whole.
     
  7. robinsky

    robinsky Rookie

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    Nov 27, 2010

    Thanks for the ideas! I guess my problem is incorporating these things every day, in each lesson. I do have projects like these once in a while, but my issue seems to be my everyday lesson planning, and keeping them engaged all the time. It's overwhelming me, and making me not enjoying teaching.
     
  8. INteacher

    INteacher Aficionado

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    Nov 28, 2010

    I don't teach math but I think these activities are fairly universal and I know our math teacher has used a few of them. I think these ideas work on a daily level -

    *create a cheer or song for math concept- the one I remember the most was a cheer for slope "you must rise before you run or you will become undone . . . "
    *Public Service Annoucements for when you will use the math concepts you are teaching - again the one I remember is buying carpet
    *acrostics for math terms
    *create a mini bullentin board on poster paper to address the standard you are teaching - my history students LOVE to do this one

    Hope this might help
     

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