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Big Ideas Math Tips for Keeping Students Engaged at the End of the School Year

  • Janay Foster

The end of the school year is almost here. Here are a few Big Ideas Math features to keep students engaged in their remote learning for the next few weeks.

While the 2019-2020 school year feels like it ended weeks ago, there’s still more time to finish this year on a good note. Here are a few tips for how to use Big Ideas Math to keep students engaged with remote learning for the next few weeks.


Testing was cancelled and school is about to end. Students are filled with the usual end-of-year excitement, while teachers and parents are feeling more anxious than ever for summer. As we come to the end of a strange school year, how can we keep students engaged? In this post, we will look ways to use the Big Ideas Math 2019 online platform to further engage students for the remainder of the year.


Elementary School – K-5 

Cross-Curricular Connections


Grade 4_Cross Curricular_Lesson 7.1_Equivalent Fractions

Grade 4 Cross Curricular Lesson 7.1


For my K-5 ninja teachers, you can find some deliriously fun activities in your Teaching Edition, both online and in print. Yes, I said deliriously fun! In any lesson (online or in print), you can locate Cross-Curricular Connections. These are usually after the closing of the lesson. The connections could be art, science, social studies, etc.


For example, the one I am referencing below is a 4th grade Cross Curricular for lesson 7.1 on equivalent fractions. Students can get some 12 glasses in their house, fill them ½ full, ¼ full, etc. and hypothesize about the types of sounds they will hear when they tap a spoon against them. Then, they can see if they are correct. Ask them which ones are equivalent. Have them try to write the fractions in order for the song, Row, Row, Row Your Boat. Could you imagine the fun students would have with their siblings and parents? 


Connect and Extend Learning


Grade 3_Connect and Extend_Chapter 10_Lesson 2

Grade 3 Connect and Extend Chapter 10


If you look a little further down in the same lesson, you will locate extension activities titled Connect and Extend Learning. I am looking at 3rd grade, Chapter 10, Lesson 2 for an example. In this activity, students use color tiles (four different colors) to create a picture. Do students have these at home? Well, probably not. However, if they can access their Big Ideas Math student account at home, they can click on Math Tools. Select the K-5 tab and click on Pattern Blocks. Students can create a picture with a shape in multiple colors. Then, determine the fraction that is green, red, etc. Could a parent check the student work? Absolutely! Remember, there is one of each of these extension activities per lesson. Imagine our students engaged in real-world activities to practice their math.


Middle School and High School – 6-12 

Family Letters


Grade 6_Family Letter_Chapter 2

Grade 6 Family Letter Chapter 2


Let’s take a look at some activities we could do with our 6-12 rockstar teachers! Did you ever send those Chapter Family Letters home? You know, the ones in your Resources by Chapter? Well, if you didn’t, you could copy and paste the instructions for students to work with their parents! Here’s an example of a 6th grade, Chapter 2 Family Letter. It’s about cooking and using only a fraction of a fraction! I bet there would be some great discussion between parent and students over how to ½ a recipe or ¼ a recipe.


Puzzle Time


Grade 6_Puzzle Time_Chapter 2_Lesson 1

Grade 6 Puzzle Time Chapter 2


Another activity to use is Puzzle Time which is also found in Resources by Chapter. These are fun practice sheets that form an answer to a silly question. Students LOVE Puzzle Time! Here’s an example of a 6th grade Chapter 2 Lesson 1 Puzzle Time.


Math Tools


Math Tools are great for all grade levels. It’s a simple manipulative can be used for so many things.  

  • Kindergarten use pattern blocks gallery for students to manipulate shapes to create the image. 
  • 2nd grade - how many triangles will fit in 3 hexagons? Could you tie that to fractions? Sure! 
  • 4th grade - students could determine that a hexagon is a whole. So, how many trapezoids would make up that whole? Triangles? 6-12 graders - challenge them with graphing, probability, place value, etc.


There are many ways to engage our students through the end of the pandemic year. Our younger students can be challenged with Cross-Curricular Connections or Connect and Extend Learning activitiesOur 6-12 graders can be challenged with Math Tools, Family Letters and Puzzle Time. So, pull those resources teachers! You know, the ones we simply do not have time for? Students will love the change of pace and getting to apply the math they have learned this year! 


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