5 Middle School Math Ideas for the Week Before Break

The week before any extended break is always challenging. Students are nervous, excited, and thinking about everything BUT school! This post includes 5 activities that get kids moving and engaged, while also still focusing on academics.

1. Mystery Prize Review Activity

This has been my favorite to do THE DAY before any break. It is fairly easy to prep, students love it, and it is still focused on math! The idea is pretty simple. Post 5-7 math problems around the room with a corresponding "mystery prize" next to each problem. You can fill the bags with whatever you would like! I have done candy, gum, pencils, or erasers in the past. Each problem will also need an entry basket and scrap paper next to it.

Students wander around the room, attempting as many of the problems as they can and submitting their work into each entry basket. Once students have had enough time to try each of them, bring the class back together. One at a time, you go over each problem and draw a winner from each basket. The first correct answer drawn from each problem wins that prize! Grab this free set of Number Operations and Algebra problems to get started!

*Tip: I usually say each student can only win one prize, unless they are the only correct answer for their second prize.

2. Scavenger Hunts

Students love scavenger hunts. I don't know what it is about them, but they always seem to go over well. The movement that is naturally built into scavenger hunts make them a perfect fit for the week before break! For mine, I post 12 problems around the room. Students start at one of the twelve problems, usually with 2-3 students starting at each one. The answer to each problem will lead students to their next problem!

I have a ton of scavenger hunts available for 6th and 8th grade, covering almost any concept you can think of! You can try this free 6th Grade Number System Scavenger Hunt and this free 8th Grade Probability Scavenger Hunt to get an idea of how they work! For other concepts, you can take a look at my two scavenger hunt bundles at the links below!

3. Rotation Review Activities

This rotation review activity is another great way to get students moving while learning math. I especially like to use these as a review at the end of a unit. Five or six problems, written on poster board, are posted around the room. Students start in groups at each of the problems, usually 4-5 students per group. Each student begins with one Post-it note for each problem (I usually have them number them). When you say go, each group gets about 2-3 minutes to do their problem on their Post-it note. When you say switch, each group rotates to the next problem (bringing all of their Post-it notes with them). Repeat this process until every group has attempted every problem!

Once finished, students can then go around the room and post their work, on the Post-it notes, to the corresponding problems. If you have time, students can then go around and look for things the class did well and common mistakes from each problem!

4. Math Games

In my opinion, there is never a bad time to introduce a new math game! The weeks before break are an especially great time to try one out! Depending on what you are working on, I have lots of math board games available for different middle school concepts. You can check some of them out below!

5. Siega

This game isn't necessarily math related, but if you need a fun and engaging game to get you through the last days of school, this is it! Students get with a partner and make game boards by creating a 3 by 3 grid of squares on any piece of paper. Each student begins the game with three counters of "their color" on one side of the board. Each player starts on a side opposite their opponent.

Students then take turns moving pieces. On their turn, they can move any of their colored counters to a square the is touching its current position. This could be horizontal, vertical, or diagonal. They cannot jump over counters or move to a spot that is already occupied!

The goal of the game is to be the first player to get their counters in a line of three in a row, in a spot other than where they started! The first player to do this wins!

What are your favorite "week before break" activities?

I'd love to hear about your favorite activities to use before break in the comments below! For more middle school math ideas, be sure to sign up for my weekly newsletter at the following link! You will also receive an Angle Relationships Task Card freebie when you sign up!

Tracking Homework Data in Math Class

Homework policies and expectations vary from classroom to classroom. There has been a lot of debate over whether or not to assign homework, how much to assign, etc. For those of you that do assign some sort of homework, this post is for you! In about my third year teaching, I began to get frustrated with the number of students that were not turning in homework consistently, which led me to start thinking about what I could do to help motivate my students to turn in their work!

After walking around at the beginning of each class period and marking off whether each student had their homework complete, I started to keep track of what percentage of students in each class were getting their homework done on time. The idea came to me that I should really be showing my students this data. 

 Students like seeing visual representations, and even more so when it is related to what they are doing! I spent some time creating this chart to record their percentages for each assignment. Yes, it did take about an hour or so of work to create... but once finished and laminated, I could easily track, erase, and reuse the chart over and over again!

One quarter's worth of assignments typically fits on the chart, before erasing and starting fresh at the start of each quarter. Separating each class by color really helped with the competition between classes. Every class wanted to be the class with the highest percentage!

Of course, starting to track the homework data didn't eliminate missing work. However, it did get students thinking about their work completion and excited about the idea of possibly reaching 100% as a class! In my opinion, every extra little bit of motivation helps. Not to mention, it brought up some great discussions about how to find each percentage and how to graph the data.

Many districts have a curriculum with options for homework, however if you are looking for options for material to assign as homework, I have several sets of task cards available that could be used for this purpose. Each task card includes 2-5 problems for a specific concept. Each bundle includes approximately 90 different topics. These task cards can be a good option for homework that doesn't include an overwhelming number of problems for each concept!

Have you tried this idea for tracking homework in your classroom? I'd love to see pictures, so feel free to tag me on social media! :)

Ideas for the Start and End of Math Class

Make the Start and End of Math Class Count

Focusing on the start and end of math class can have a huge impact on student learning. The beginning of class helps set the tone for what is to follow and can give you valuable information about your students. Utilizing the end of class effectively can help reiterate and solidify what your students learned that day in class.

Starting Class: Creating an Effective Warm-up

Warm-up problems can be tricky. My first few years of teaching, I had some major problems with my warm-up routine. I put up a couple of problems each day and had a turn in basket for students to turn them in. I rarely ended up looking through them or grading them. What I ended up with was a group of students who consistently participated in the warm-up and another group who rarely participated.

Gradually, my system for using a warm-up evolved. What I found to be most effective was for students to complete a daily check each day as their warm-up. 
Each daily check includes four problems from the previous day's topic, each at a different level ranging from Beginning, Developing, Proficient, and Advanced. I use the problems in my 6th Grade Math Exit Slips Bundle and 8th Grade Math Exit Slips Bundle for my problems. You can also try this Free Sample of 6th Grade Exit Slips to see if these would work for you! Students complete the problems to the best of their ability before you come around and collect their sheets. After collecting them, you can go over the four problems together. The majority of the time, these daily checks are graded and entered in the grade book, which quickly solves the problem of some students not participating! If you have longer class periods this is a great option. This whole routine usually takes up about 15-20 minutes. With a shorter class period, an abbreviated version of this routine could also be set up, with either fewer problems or possibly not going over the problems after students finish.

Ending Class: Making it Stick

I sometimes find it hard to set aside a few minutes at the end of class to wrap up the lesson. However, I think it is extremely important to make the effort to have some sort of quick "wrap up" activity so that students are thinking about what they were supposed to learn that day. Below are four of my favorites that I have used to end class throughout my teaching career!

1. Simple Post-it Check

This one is the easiest and quickest! Pass out a Post-it note to each student, throw a problem or two up on the board, and have them stick their work on the door on the way out. I usually don't have these problems planned, but rather just make up one or two problems based on that day's lesson.

2. Partner Post-it Check

If you have a little more time at the end of class, my students have really enjoyed doing this activity. They each get two different colored Post-it notes. On the first color, they create a problem that coincides with the lesson from that day. I usually give some parameters so they problems don't get too crazy! For example, in the multiplying fractions activity pictured above, all of their numerators and denominators had to be between 1 and 20. Once they all have a problem created, I collect the problems and redistribute. Each student must complete the problem they get on their second colored Post-it. When finished, they stick them back to back and turn in as they leave class!

3. My Favorite No

I forgot where I found this one, but it is a lot of fun and creates and environment where mistakes are okay! I do the Simple Post-it Check I described above, however I go around and collect them as they finish. As I take them, I look for "My Favorite No," which is my favorite mistake I see. Without using names, we go over that mistake together as a class.

4. Find the Mistake

If you are really short on time at the end of class and don't have time to do a full Post-it check, this is a quick way to get students thinking about that day's lesson. I do a problem on the front board and intentionally make a mistake. Students need to watch and raise their hand as soon as they see the mistake!

What are your favorite ways to start and end math class? I'd love to hear your ideas in the comment section below!

Final Day of Math Dollar Deals

Today is the last Tuesday in July, which means the Math Dollar Deals are coming to an end. Today is the final day to grab some awesome math resources for just one dollar! To find all of the deals, be sure to search #mathdollardeals on Teachers Pay Teachers. Many of the teachers, myself included, will be putting TWO resources on sale for $1 this week! You can grab the following two resources from my store for one dollar until the end of the day on Tuesday, July 31st!

In Decimal Dash, students take turns drawing a playing card from the deck. If they are able to find the correct answer to the problem on their card, they move ahead the number of spaces indicated on the card. The tougher the problem, the more spaces they will get to move ahead! If a player lands on a "Take a Chance" space, they draw a "Take a Chance" card, which will either move them ahead or back!

This unit of task cards includes six different task cards (and answer keys) that focus on writing and solving equations. Each of the task cards includes multiple equations for students to work through. Task cards are a very versatile tool in the classroom and can be used in many ways. I use these cards at the front table with the small group I am working with during math workshop. For more ideas on how to use task cards in the classroom, be sure to check out THIS post!

I hope you all have enjoyed our Math Dollar Deals this summer and can find a good use for these resources in your classroom! Have a great rest of the summer and back to school season!

Math Dollar Deals Week 4

The #mathdollardeals are back for another week! Every Tuesday in July, some math teacher friends and I are putting a resource up for just one dollar. This week will be a bonus, since some of us will be putting TWO resources on sale. The deals are on Tuesday, but they usually start trickling in Monday night if you want to get a head start!

My first resource on sale is this Square and Square Roots Bingo game. The resource includes 30 unique bingo boards and 26 different calling cards, including the squares of numbers 0-12 and square roots (perfect squares only) of numbers 0-144. This is a fun one to play as a whole class or in small groups!

The second resource for $1 is one of my new Transformation Mystery Trip resources. In this activity, students begin in Miami, Florida, and must translate, reflect, and rotate their way to one of six mystery destinations. My students love the challenge of figuring out where they are going!

Remember, to find all of the one dollar deals, either search #mathdollardeals on Teachers Pay Teachers OR scroll down to the bottom of THIS blog post by Mrs. E Teaches Math! Have a great week everyone!

Math Workshop Full Year Mega Bundle

As my teaching philosophy and classroom structure shifted towards a math workshop setup, it became important for me to have engaging and effective activities for my students to use at their math centers. Creating these games, sorts, and hands-on resources has truly become a passion of mine. I am excited to share that I now have a Math Workshop Full Year Mega Bundle available in my store. This bundle includes the vast majority of my upper elementary/lower middle school resources. Although these activities were created with 6th graders in mind, if you teach 5th grade or 7th grade, I think you will also find them useful! Below is a snapshot of what is included! If you have already downloaded Part 1 or Part 2 of my Math Mega Bundle, then DON'T download this, since many of the resources are the same! Instead, you may want to consider downloaded the other part!

Task Cards and Exit Slips
Included are two full year sets of task cards and my set of Angle Relationships Task Cards. The first set includes more basic problems for close to 90 different concepts. Each task card includes 2-5 problems. The second set covers the same concepts, but are enrichment problems. Each of these cards includes 1-2 challenging problems for your higher ability students. The set of Angle Relationships Task Cards includes 96 different task cards in which students must use their knowledge of angle relationships to find missing angles. 

The bundle also includes a set of exit slips. Each of the close to 90 concepts includes an exit slip with four problems that increase in difficulty to help find where your students are at with each concept.

Math Games

Connect Four Games
My students love Connect Four games! There are 15 different games, each focusing on a different math concept. Students must answer math problems that lead them to cover spaces on their game board. First person to connect four in a row wins!

Math Board Games
These 16 board games are a more recent addition to my store. They were a huge hit last year with my middle school students. The games cover everything from fraction/decimal operations to probability/statistics and everything in between! My personal favorite is this Area Invasion board game.

Memory Games
Who doesn't like a good memory game? There are six different equation memory games, where students must match the equation with its solution. 

Top it Games
The six Equation Top-it games that are included have a similar game play as the classic card game War. Student each flip over a card and must solve the equation. Whoever has the higher solution wins both of the cards. The game goes on until someone wins all of the cards or time runs out!

Bingo Games
Three different bingo games are included that are fun to play as a whole class or in small groups as a math center. Multiplication Bingo, Negative Number Bingo, and Squares and Roots Bingo each focus on different skills.

Game Show Review
These Jeopardy-style games are great to use as review with the whole class. There are five different sets of questions, each related to a different standard. A sixth end-of-year review set includes questions related to a variety of standards.

Scavenger Hunts
Another fun way to review and get kids out of their seats and moving around the room is by using scavenger hunts. Post the 12 problems around the room and have 1-3 students start at each problem. Their answer to each problem will lead them to their next problem! This bundle includes 10 different scavenger hunts for a variety of math concepts.

Other Resources
In addition to everything described above, there are a variety of other activities also included in the bundle. A Stock Market Challenge, Percent Scramble game, Pi Day challenge, and much more are a part of this package to help keep things fun and engaging in your classroom! You can see a list of everything that is included in the product description at the following link. Have a great school year!