Active Math Learning

CORE Math works to positively impact student achievement by creating active learning experiences for all students and educators.

What is Active Math Learning?

Active math learning is a student-centered approach that engages students in a vibrant community of learners to construct their mathematics knowledge through hands-on exploration, minds-on problem-solving, and physical activity. This collaborative process activates multiple brain regions and strengthens neural pathways, leading to deeper learning, stronger retention, and improved achievement.

Hands-On + Minds-On = Active Math Learning

Hands-on learning involves students as individuals in the learning process and deeply engages them in the mathematical content.


Through hands-on learning, students will: 

  • Interact with the instructor and peers to create a sense of community.

  • Have ownership of their learning.

  • Make choices around how to share their thinking (mathematical representations).

Minds-on learning engages students in constructing their own knowledge of math concepts to prompt higher-order thinking.


Through minds-on learning, students will: 

  • Interpret and create meaning through their lenses.

  • Confront misconceptions and reconstruct mental models.

  • Develop mathematical versatility.

Why Students Need Active Math Learning

To develop mathematical competence, educators must go beyond understanding what students learn by also focusing on why and how students learn. Hands-on and minds-on learning sparks deeper engagement, strengthens neural pathways, and fosters critical thinking and problem-solving. 

When instructional time is spent in Active Math Learning, students increase their…

Academic Achievement

Engagement & Motivation

Conceptual Understanding

Problem-Solving Skills

Components of Mathematical Competence

By considering cognitive, emotional, and environmental factors in the classroom, we can craft impactful learning experiences where students develop mathematical competence through:
  • Conceptual Understanding & Procedural Fluency

    Deeply understand interconnected mathematical ideas and concepts and apply that understanding to solve problems accurately and efficiently.

  • Visuospatial Reasoning

    Interpret, build, manipulate, and connect visual and spatial relationships to grasp concepts, and patterns and discover problem structure.

  • Mathematical Reasoning

    Critically and creatively analyze patterns, principles, structure, and relationships, applying flexible strategies to solve problems and unlock mathematical insights.

  • Strategic Competence

    Apply, connect, and adapt mathematical ideas, concepts, representations, and strategies for versatile problem-solving and to navigating uncertainty.

  • Communicating Mathematical Ideas

    Share, exchange, and translate mathematical ideas and concepts through language, symbols, visuals, and graphs. Justify and build convincing arguments with logic and critical thinking.

The Brain During Active Math Learning Experiences

Brain research offers valuable insights into Active Math Learning, illuminating how our interconnected brain networks facilitate the growth of mathematical skills. Although there is still much to discover about the brain’s remarkable learning and adaptation capabilities, we have begun to understand how diverse regions collaborate to unlock deeper understanding and create connections between concepts.

Two brain networks support mathematical learning:

The visuospatial network is active when students mentally rotate shapes, imagine fractions on a number line, or track spatial relationships between numbers.

The semantic network helps us connect new concepts to existing knowledge, choose the right problem-solving tools, and apply mathematical principles in real-world situations.

Learn More

CORE offers site- and district-based professional learning that is centered on mathematical big ideas and grounded in research and evidence-based instructional practices for engaging students in hands-on and minds-on learning. Contact us for information.