Thursday, July 17, 2014

How do I make math fun & interactive? Part 1

The first thing you need to make math fun, is the desire to do so! Since you are reading this, I am going to assume you have that desire!

Next, you need to find a way to change the way your students think. Many of your students are used to sitting at their desks, taking notes, and keeping their mouths shuts. They consider that the norm. If you want your class to be interactive and fun, you need to throw out some rules! Wait you might think - how do I do that? Here is part of 1 of "creating an interactive secondary classroom"

You know that piece of you that wants your kids to always stay in their seats? Take that part of you, wrap it up with rainbow paper, and throw it out your classroom window. Throw it out NOW! Does sitting in uncomfortable chairs for 50 (or more!) minutes, multiple class periods each day sound like fun to you? Of course not! It's not fun for your students either!

You will always need to have some time (particularly when you are introducing brand new material) where students do sit, listen and write things down. The time spent doing this should be kept to a minimum! The bulk of your class period should include student interaction and movement. Students may be moving around creating pages to stick in their interactive notebooks, or moving around to different centers while they work on mastering various concepts. Movement is key! It keeps them (and you!) from falling asleep, and keeps their brains switched on at all times! Students should also have the opportunities to interact with one another, and with you!

Now that we have that settled, how do you incorporate movement into the classroom. Elementary school teachers use centers, and those of us teaching secondary math can too! My go to centers include task cards, scavenger hunts, and puzzles. I could go on and on about each of these (and will at a future date) but for right now I just want to share this amazing ebook: Task Card Handbook. Task cards can be used for literally anything. This handbook (created by the task card queen herself, Ms. Rachel Lynette - over at shares what a task card is, and how to use them. They are one of the simplest items to use and there are many ways to use them!  

When I first incorporated movement into my classroom, I was afraid of losing control of my students However, I have found that it is much easier to keep control of the class when students enjoy what they are doing. When I primarily lectured I wasted a lot of time remind individual students to stay at their desks and keep quiet. When you remove the "stay seated" requirement you have one less thing to monitor for. 

Now it is question time: Have you ever used task cards? How do you feel about letting students move around the classroom? I'd love to hear from you!

Check out Part 2 of "how do I make math fun and interactive" here: Part 2

PS I used Graphics From the Pond for this post:


  1. Ugh! Typed a big long response and it disappeared! The short version-love what you have to say...can't wait for more!

    1. Thank you so much for your comment! I'm having fun planning out things to post!

  2. I looked on the task card site and only found cards thru a 6th grade math level. Do you make your own or did I miss seeing the higher level cards?

    1. Hi Robin! I do make a lot of task cards which I list in my teachers pay teachers store here: Before I started creating & selling resources on teachers pay teachers I wrote down problems for my students on index cards and used those. A teacher I worked with would have her students create task cards - which I thought was a great idea! For example, she would teach finding slope. Then every student in her 1st period would come up with 2 points on a coordinate plane & write them down on a slip of paper. Her 2nd period would then solve the problems 1st period created, 3rd period would solve the problems 2nd period created and so on.

  3. I agree key is to involve and engage students... They have to own their learning... :o)