### It’s a simple mathematical equation, but the effects are anything but simple.

Motivating students is one of the major challenges teachers face daily. Yet, I know when my students are engaged in learning they are more excited, motivated, perform better academically, show increased effort, and have less behavioral issues than the unengaged student.

Marzano stated four questions to measure engagement in my students.

**How does the student feel?**

**Is the student interested?**

**Is this important to the student?**

**Can my student do this?**

Using these four questions to guide my classes engagement helps me know when I need to change things up for my students. Below I have listed questions and activities that are for the most part, easy for me to implement at a moment’s notice.

*How does the student feel? *

*This area includes the emotional student, intellectual student and physical student.*

* Intellectually*

**Is my pacing effective? Am I going too fast or too slow? Are my students lost or bored?**

*One of my favorite methods to monitor students understanding is using whiteboards . Having students show what they are “getting” or “not getting” helps me know where to go with my instruction.*

*I also like to take a simple class measurement with thumbs up, middle, or down for how they are feeling about the standard we are working on.*

*Emotionally*

*Adding humor to a lesson pulls students into my lesson. Can this lesson relate to a funny quick story? A silly knock knock joke? Humor reduces stress for students and teachers alike.*

*Do I have enthusiasm for this lesson? Sometimes, my students catch me when I say, “wait until you try this strategy, it’s my favorite”. My students say, “Mrs. Reed, you say that all the time about every strategy.” Oh well!*

*Am I showing interest to my students? Did I talk to my students individually today? this week? I know when they know I care about them, they will care about what I am teaching.*

**Physically**

*Do my students look antsy, tired, sluggish or too full of energy? Can I add some movement to my lesson? Research says that the* same part of the brain that processes movement also processes learning.

Here are a few ideas.

**Gallery W****alks****–**After having my students write, draw, or build their responses to a group task, I have a Gallery Walk. Gallery Walk’s allow my students to go around the room and see other students’ responses. Gallery Walk

**Brain Breaks**are a quick way to add movement for my students. Brain Break

**Use body movemen**t to answer a question. For example, in a true false question, I have my students show a thumbs up for true and thumbs down for false.

**Is the student interested?**

*Strategies to gain interest:*

**Questioning**-Using a deck of cards that I have dealt out at the beginning of class, I am ready to call on any student. This really helps students stay engaged, they never know who will be asked to comment.

*Use the 10:2 method.**For every 10 minutes of instruction allow the students 2 minutes to process and respond to the instruction.***Games**-(here is a previous post I did on math games with resources) Students love games! Math Games**Working with technology****–**My students are way digital savvy (yes, even at 10 years old). Tech engages students. Can I have my students make a graph, use an app or play a game that applies to the standard I’m working on?**Mix up my**schedule or activities**.****Add highlighters and post-it notes**-can boost student participation.

*Is this important to the student?*

**Authentic Math**tasks helps students to reflect, question, evaluate and make conjectures and connections with their teammates that produces student engagement. Here are my two favorite resources Illustrative Mathematics and Georgia Math.**Project based learning**-Here’s a previous post on project based learning. My students loved this! PBL**Giving choices**-Can I give my students a choice in a task or project? Freedom in how students complete assignments or projects engage students.

**Can my student do this?**

**Think-Pair-Share-**This helps my students to pause and process what they have just learned. Sharing with their teammates what they have just learned will help them solidify the concept they are learning or add questions to their thinking.**Collaborative**pretests and assignments will add student confidence.**Tracking progress over time.**My students track how they do on their entry tasks overtime. They track effort and results on a 4-3-2-1- scale. I will know and work with students who perform below a 2.

*That’s what I want for my students, to be engaged in both mind and body. I want lessons to matter to them as it does for me. When I plan for active participation and higher-order thinking from my students, I’m more likely to have an engaged student!*

### Patty Reed

#### Latest posts by Patty Reed (see all)

- What Do You Notice? What Do You Wonder? - December 5, 2016
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Francis Jequinto says

One thought to add is that some tools that can be very effective can easily be killed by repetition if presented to a full staff as PD. One example of that is finger voting and/or the thumb voting – but there are lots of ways to shake it up that get the same message across. One of my colleagues uses the happy/neutral/frown faces like at a doctor’s office, and you could also have kids rate how “big” their confidence level is in their understanding with their arms – wide open is a lot of confidence, and tiny pinchy-fingers is low confidence. You could have them do a quick line-up with opposite terms on opposite walls, and have kids rate themselves on a linear scale. I’m with you, the more movement the better.

Alisa Louie says

You’ve shared so many great strategies! I’m going to keep this on speed dial for review. Movement is my favorite! :)

Tom White says

You’ve got some excellent ideas, Patty! And you’re so right; student engagement is the single most important factor in student learning.

Patricia Gustin says

You packed a lot of quality stuff into your blog. I went to the Georgia Math website and found tools and tasks for my Algebra 2 students. Thanks! I’m stealing/sharing your student self-tracking tool which fits nicely with John Hattie’s latest finding that students self-reporting their grades is the #1 most effective teaching strategy with an effect size of 1.44. Here a link to his famous list: http://visible-learning.org/2016/04/hattie-ranking-backup-of-138-effects/

Patty Reed says

Wow Patty, I had no idea about Hattie’s list. Very informative. I’m all for using the most effective teaching strategies. Thanks

Douglas Ferguson says

Thanks for the ideas Patty. This is a great menu of options that I’m going to come back and visit!

Elizabeth Johnston says

Great strategies and tools in connection to our TPEP work and real-world student engagement. Thanks for the reminders!

Debbie Webb says

Love the information and specific strategies! Thank you for giving me great resources to try in my own classroom! Look out students, here I come!!!

Scott Cleary says

I like how the theory you ruminate on here is put into the context of real world practices, like gallery walks. Seeing how you put these theories into practice gave me a lot of ideas for my teaching toolkit, especially the link to the project based learning blog. And the 10/2 rule was a great reminder. Too often we as teachers get into bulldozer mode with content and don’t give the kids time to process.

Patty Reed says

I am totally guilty of trying to “bulldoze” curriculum into my students. (It must be an innate teacher fear.) It’s my goal this year not to do that. How much do my students “get” when I’m in that mode? Not much. Thanks for your comment.

Aaron Brecek says

Those are some great tools for any teacher to add to their tool box. If you can increase student engagement in class you are guaranteed to see better results.

Carina Stillman says

Thank you for these great ideas, many of which apply in HS ELA. As I think about my year so far, it’s been a lot of me–explaining, modeling, organizing, coordinating. I use pair-share activities often but I think it’s time to turn more of the thinking work over to students, and they probably feel the same way.

Johanna says

This was a fantastic, pragmatic read. I have a student teacher this year, and so far I am struggling with giving her really usable, targeted feedback. As she begins to plan lessons, I think I will use this as a bit of a guide for her. I’ll also use it for myself when those certain lessons just don’t work. Thanks!

Patty Reed says

Glad you could use this.