Stimulating Student Interest and Engagement

How does one really engage students in a mathematical lesson? One way is to engage them in activities relevant to their experiences. Additionally, creating these rich mathematical experiences engages their curiosity. Let's examine how Ana England also engages students in high-level mathematical tasks using cooperative learning.

How does Ms. England ensure that students understand both the context and the goal of the activity, as well as the ways in which they will be expected to work cooperatively? Check it out in "Fast Food Restaurant".


Note how Ms. England goes from presenting a context that students understand (stacking cups) to soliciting their ideas regarding a mathematical task (how many cups will it take to reach the ceiling). This transition is the key to getting students engaged in the task by sparking their curiosity. Before students are released to work in groups, Ms. England asks her students to share their cup-solving strategies. It is important that students share ideas about how to solve a problem before starting on the actual task. Why? Because this allows them time to think about strategies before getting into groups and plunging into activity. In this way, when students do start their interactive work, they will be better able to focus on the mathematical purpose of the activity and how they might move toward that goal


It is important that students share ideas about how to solve a problem before starting on the actual task. Why? Because this allows them time to think about strategies before getting into groups and plunging into activity. In this way, when students do start their interactive work, they will be better able to focus on the mathematical purpose of the activity and how they might move toward that goal.