For many middle-school children, math is a real challenge. It is at this age that the concepts begin to get more abstract, and work goes beyond "concrete" ideas like adding and subtracting. It's no surprise that at this age, math can become something the student avoids, or begins to dislike.
It is amazing the difference in effort you will get from worksheet to worksheet. Granted the amount of effort may vary immensely from year to year depending on the group of students you have.
My students are engaged in the activity because they are always eager to find out what the next scene will be, and how the math problems will be nestled within. They also like how within each handout I inscribe the title in a way that fits with the theme of that particular scene - another attention catching technique. And since this review activity only takes about fifteen minutes of class time, it is quick yet extremely beneficial.
Thus, the math worksheets which you get for your kids should include interesting word problems that help them with the practical application of the lessons they learn. It should also present the same problem in a variety of ways to ensure that a child's grasp of a subject is deeper and comprehensive.