Plan a Distance Learning Math Block to Increase Student Engagement

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In Spring 2020, we were thrown into remote learning without warning. All of our structures and routines we had in place were really thrown for a loop! In this post, I break down three things to do to ensure students are still engaged and learning during your distance learning math block!

1: Flip Your Distance Learning Math Block

Teaching math synchronously while remote learning can be difficult. You have students coming in and out of the video call, some students having connectivity issues and there is always that one kid who doesn’t mute their mic 😅.

My solution to all this is to flip your classroom. That means to pre-record your lessons and give them to students a day or two in advance. This way, when you are on a video call with your class, you can take questions and address misconceptions. Here is the outline of the slides I give my students prior to our video calls:

  • Welcome slide with an open ended, thought provoking math question and agenda.
  • Growth Mindset quote and rubric for student success.
  • Problem of the Day – usually a question of the skill for that day.
  • Vocabulary of the Day
  • Model/Problem of the Day Breakdown
  • Guided Practice – a problem that has the structure and is started for students to solve.
  • Extra Resources – anchor charts and resources.
  • Exit Ticket – a Google Form that has 1-2 questions assessing student knowledge. This is where you will get the information for what to plan for synchronous video instruction.
  • Lesson Glossary – I hyperlink any vocabulary words to this glossary for students to see the definitions and examples. 

My slides are interactive and I make a copy for each student when I assign them in Google Classroom. If you’re using another learning management system, I suggest doing the same. Nearpod is also a great tool to use to create interactive and collaborative lessons that allow for students to participate during asynchronous learning. 

2: Maintain a Structure & Be Consistent

My second tip for you is to find a structure that works for you and stick to it the best you can. I like to give students the lesson and materials before our video calls because it gives them a chance to ask questions when we are on the call. My video calls are for 30 minutes and I schedule them for the same time everyday. Watch this video to see how to schedule Google Meets. Here is the structure for the scheduled video calls:

  • Review video chat expectations (2-3 minutes)
  • Ice Breaker or Quick SEL check in (3-6 minutes)
  • Review previous day’s exit ticket OR have discussion about previous day’s problem of the day (7-10 minutes)
  • Student questions (5-7 minutes)
  • Remind students of expectations for slides for next time. (3-4 minutes)

3: Be Flexible

If there is one thing I learned from remote learning it’s that things don’t always go according to plan, and that’s okay. Your timing will be off the first few times you implement this distance learning math block – give yourself grace! You are doing the best you can and teaching math remotely is no easy task. As long as you’re maintaining a consistent structure, you will be fine! 

I created this YouTube video where I explain how I teach math remotely with Google Slides. In the video I break down how I use the animate feature and Screencastify or Loom to pre-record my lessons. Check that out here:



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Plan a Distance Learning Math Block to Increase Student Engagement

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Hi, I'm Alexandra!

I am a fourth-grade math teacher turned elementary tech teacher. I help upper elementary math teachers like YOU get organized digitally and engage students with digital tools. When I’m not teaching, you can find me taking long walks with my dog, Frannie, or travelling (especially to Disney World)!