Enrichment in Math: Not Just Faster, Not Just More

As math teachers, we spend much of our time planning for students who need extra time or support to understand mathematics at our grade level. We also worry about how we might create appropriate challenge for students who have a strong foundation in math and are ready to move ahead before their classmates are ready. The last thing we want is for our most able mathematics students to get bored and disengage. Enrichment seems like a good option, but how do we do that?

Why? Goals

Enrichment activies are meant to allow students to

  • engage in rich tasks and activities at grade level
  • stay with their peers
  • replace foundational math tasks that other students require to build understanding
  • reinforce mathematical thinking skills so that students are even more able to engage in grade-level math

When? Timing

There are at least two opportunities for enrichment within your instructional sequence.

  • When we pause to help students review and build readiness for grade-level instruction. This might be in the form of a concept review, reteach, or responsive station.
    • Enrichment tasks can be an option for students who do not need to review or practice foundational skills.
    • Enrichment tasks that are loosely based on the same concepts as are in the review will help students be even more ready for grade-level instruction.
  • When we are teaching grade-level concepts and the majority of students require more time to complete tasks.
    • Enrichment tasks can be an option for students who are done work earlier than their peers.
    • Enrichment tasks that are loosely based on the grade-level concept, but allow for creative thinking and application can allow students to see mathematics in a creative and contextual way.

What? Characteristics

Enrichment tasks take on all different forms. Some common characteristics might be:

  • Engaging
  • Hands-on
  • Applied to the Real World
  • Creative
  • Games
  • Puzzles
  • Math Outside of Curriculum
  • Connecting Math Concepts
  • Social Justice topics

You can access hundreds of curated resources in this Enrichment Task Google Folder. Feel free to share, download, and use these resources.

Who? Target Students

All students might be able to engage in Enrichment tasks at some point in the year. Different students have different strengths. Enrichment is not exclusive to gifted students.

How? Classroom Structures

A station or enrichment corner are relatively simple to set up. One thing to consider is what tasks to have available at what time. A suggestion is that the tasks in the enrichment station should be loosely related to the math concept being experienced by the rest of the class. This ensures that the students doing enrichment tasks are going to be even more able to complete grade-level math tasks. When enrichment tasks are completely unrelated to the math students will experience next, we are inadvertently creating a time gap in student learning and may actually contribute to lower achievement.

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