5 Ways to Engage Your Students from a Distance During Math Workshop

I am a workshop model teacher. Period. I always have been and always will be. I love the look of students around tables or spread out on the carpet working collaboratively and the sound of students discussing ideas and solving problems. So, in March of 2020, I was a little concerned about maintaining my workshop format from a distance. The concerns didn’t last long and I’d like to share why with you today.

1. How I Keep a Workshop Schedule

I keep a schedule for my distance learning workshops that’s similar to my in-person workshop schedule. For math workshop, this means a mini lesson that lasts about 10 minutes where I introduce the objective, do a demonstration, then have students practice. I have an extended screen, so I can look at my students’ work on one screen while I interact with them on the other.

5 Ways to Engage Your Students from a Distance During Math Workshop
I can see and talk to my students on my laptop screen and see their work on the extended screen during the mini lesson and independent work time in small groups.

After the mini lesson and the guided practice, I move students to breakout groups for the bulk of the workshop time. I move from room to room to interact with my students just like I would move from group to group in the classroom. We’re lucky that we have a one hour math block, so my students usually have about 45 minutes to work in small groups before we reconvene for 5 to 10 minutes of sharing at the end of the workshop.

Image features a white background and flower border.
Keeping Students Engaged from a Distance Can be a Challenge

2. How I Vary Materials

I have heard so many teachers lament how much they miss their hands on materials – especially in math! I agree, but I have also discovered how many options there are for providing virtual hands on experiences using interactive materials and activities. Hands on materials can be organized into several categories. I’ll be looking closely at virtual manipulatives, puzzles and picture reveals, and fillable charts today.

Image features a sketch book with the word "workshop" on it and a child learning on a computer.
It’s important to vary your materials and to keep a workshop schedule in a virtual classroom.

3. How I Use Virtual Manipulatives

I have many games and lessons that I have created that use movable number tiles, decimal tiles, and fraction tiles. Here are a few examples: Factors and Multiples for Google Classroom, Order of Operations and Distributive Property for Google Classroom, Comparing and Ordering Fractions and Decimals, and Even and Odd and Prime and Composite Google Slides. I also mention at every opportunity I get that there is an amazing professor at George Mason University named Theresa Wills who has a multitude of FREE templates for personal use. Many of her resources include digital manipulatives. Take a few minutes to explore her site: templates for any subject. Scroll down on the page to find the math manipulatives.

Image features a factors digital sort with movable tiles on a desktop computer and a pixel puzzle with digital task cards.
Providing digital manipulatives, puzzles, and picture reveals can boost engagement.

4. How I Use Puzzles and Picture Reveals

My students LOVE digital puzzles and picture reveal activities. I spend a lot of time making them, because my own students keep asking for more. I have three types of puzzles and picture reveals that I use with my students. One features Google sheets. I purchased the templates from Lisa at Hello Algebra (in case you want to purchase any and try making some for yourself). I have several ready to use sets including: a Fraction Computation BUNDLE, a Decimal Computation BUNDLE, and a Measurement set (under construction – soon to be a BUNDLE). The second type features digital color-by-code activities. Most of these sets are on BOOM Learning. Students solve problems or answer questions to color a digital picture. The third type features a number grid that covers a picture. As students answer questions, a picture is revealed.

Image features an even/odd, prime/composite digital sort with movable tiles, a pixel puzzle, and decimal addition and subtraction fillable charts all on laptops.
Keep students interested and working with digital manipulatives to drag and drop, puzzles, and fillable charts.

5. How I Use Fillable Charts

My students enjoy creating fillable charts using the paint tool on Google slides. They use fillable tables to demonstrate understanding of decimals and fractions, as well as multiples of 10. Here is an example of a resource that includes this feature.

During the workshop time, my students are involved in using the types of resources I have featured in this post every day. They consistently name math as their favorite time of the day and cheer when math workshop begins.

Image says, "Thank you. Don't Hesitate to Ask Any Questions".
Thank you so much for reading about ways to engage your students from a distance during math workshop.

Want to learn more? Click here and here.

Check out these great digital resources, too. Picture Reveals, Color-By-Code Digital Progression, BOOM Cards, and Google Classroom.

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Have a wonderful week and happy MARCH!

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Amber

    Such great ideas here! Thank you!

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