Is there a workshop, training, or professional development that you feel made a long lasting impact on your instruction? Although I used different math curriculums through the years, I continued to use tips I learned at a week long Math Their Way workshop.
EXPLORATION: This is an important classroom management tip that should be taught in undergrad. Students need time to explore, use, play, and make discoveries with the manipulatives before they use them with a lesson.
Are you planning a measurement unit in the near future? Get out the rulers, measuring tape, or other tools that you will use during the unit now. Add these to your Friday fun day choices or let your students use them during inside recess. Instead of making a helicopter with a pencil and a ruler, your students will be more attentive during your measurement lesson – if they have had time to explore before the lesson.
Not every learning opportunity has to have a written response. Open-ended activities are great ways to encourage self-learning, creativity, and critical thinking. Pictured above is an easy center you can organize during your measurement unit that is open-ended. Ribbons, scrap materials, and a variety of measurement tools are all that is needed.
Conversations at this center are interesting. Some students will pretend to be a fashion designer, others will organize the materials by patterns or colors, and others will pretend to be a store owner. You will see collaboration and hear conversations about math. Students are making connections about what type of jobs or careers would use this type of math while practicing math skills.
Help students make real life connections with measurement with this road tape from Target’s Dollar Spot. Distance is another form of measurement. I cut different lengths and attached it to cardstock. Quick and easy measurement center that students will love.
Students can practice non-standard units of measurement and make the connection that 12 inches equals a foot with these foam feet. The foam feet are from Dollar Tree.
Practice, practice, and more practice is needed when students learn to measure. It is helpful if there is a line showing students where to measure when they learn how to use a ruler. Once your students become proficient at measuring, give them pictures without a line.
Treasure boxes is another tip that I continued to use – no matter what curriculum I used. Treasure boxes can be any small container. I prefer Ziplock containers because they come in a variety of sizes and have colorful lids.
- I used the color of the lid to organize my groups. Different teams used different colored treasure boxes each day.
- It is helpful to have defined workspace if your students use the treasure boxes in a small area like their table. You can use a small piece of felt or shelf liner (see picture below). I found the shelf liner at Dollar Tree. Each roll has 60 inches. I got six workspaces out of one roll (10 inches).
- Train your students to put the lid under the box, next to the workspace.
You can add anything to the boxes that you like. Send home a note to parents and ask for their help in organizing your treasure boxes. Ask for a variety of materials like:
- Pinto beans
- Lids from juice or milk
- Popsicle sticks
Treasure boxes are perfect for teachers who teach math using math stations. They are open-ended and no prep once you have organized a class set.
Put pennies and quarters in one of your treasure boxes. Coins can be real or pretend money. This box is a good extension for a money unit or Presidents Day. Since it is open-ended students, you might see students making patterns by coins, color, heads/tails, or height (stacking coins). Other students may arrange the coins to spell words.
If you use my Black History Month unit, you know that Dr. George Grant invented the golf tee. Add golf tees to one of your treasure boxes. Students can make patterns, shapes, or spell words with golf tees.