Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Math Treats: Blog Hop

I am so excited to partner up with Doc Running from Everything Education and other wonderful math teachers to share some Math Treats.  From the looks of it; I may be one of the only elementary level teachers that is participating in this blog hop.  Although this may be true, my experience as a sixth grade math teacher knows that a few of my "treats" are acceptable and have been used successfully in most if not all grade levels.

"Treat" #1: Task cards

All of my students love task cards.  I have utilized task cards in a variety of ways.  Most often, I use task cards as a scavenger hunt in my classroom.  Depending on their level; I hide my task cards very well; or in more conspicuous places.  Depending on the skill I am targeting, I either have students work individually or with a partner.  The latter tends to happen the most in my classroom. can be heterogenous or homogeneously grouped.  Not only are the students up and out of their seats, but they are having fun and completing/practicing math problems along the way.  The scavenger hunt idea is used mainly as a review of the skill or topic most recently addressed.  

I found that task cards were great for reluctant learners and for completing during after school activities to keep the students engaged.  During guided math; I also use task cards as a center activity.  This activity is done independently, so it is primarily a review of previously taught topics or a skill that needs continued practice throughout the school year.  I do this so that I know that students can work independently and quietly while I am working with a small group of students. Additionally, task cards have been used in my class for earlier finishers.

"Treat" #2: Choice boards    

For every topic or unit of study that is being completed; the students are given a choice board.  This choice board allows the students to pick activities they would like to complete when they are not meeting with me during our guided math time.  It is a great way to differentiate activities to meet the needs of all of your students.  The choice board is posted in the classroom but a copy is also given to each student to keep and reference back to if needed.  The board if actually a 3 box by 3 box grid, like a bingo board with the center box being a "free space".  This allows for eight different activities for the students to complete.  Each choice board is given by topic; so it may seem like coming up with eight different activities is a lot of work, but it's all relative because it is not changed weekly but rather every two or three weeks. 

There are certain assignments that I want students to complete throughout the topic, I label them MUST DO's.  Meaning that the students must do two (at maximum) of the activities listed on the board before the end of the topic assessment.  All of the other activities (six of them) are available for them to complete.  Depending on the activity, students may be given bonus points on that topic test if they complete the activity, or even given a homework pass.  I have used a choice board in both my sixth and third grade math classes and have had very little trouble having the students "buy in" to the idea.  They love having the option of the work they want to do.  Let me stress though, that the activities provided are not "busy work" but rather, meaningful activities. 

"Treat" #3: Grudgeball:

I have posted about this in the past; but it's so great that it is worth mentioning again.  I actually found the idea of Pinterest.  It's a game that I thought would be great to motivate my students.  With the Common Core Standards in place; the pacing of our Math curriculum has become insane. There is so much to cover within a given time period. This often makes it difficult for mastery of this skills because we are often have to go on to the next skill or topic. Being that this has been this way for a while, my awesome co-teacher and I decided that we needed to switch some things up and add some more fun to math.  Our students needed to be motivated in order for them to want to learn and enjoy math. Enter Grudgeball.

As the students were comparing answers, one of us divided the board into four groups and labeled. Each groups had five rows of four X's, for a total of 20 X's under each group. We also set up a "basket" and shooting lines. (Think of a two and three pointer in basketball.) we used an empty trash can and walked 10 feet away from the basket and placed a piece of tape on the floor for the first shoot line and a second piece of tape about another foot or two from the first taped line. 

At the start of the game, we explained the rules and stressed that we will go in group order to answer the questions. The group will answer their question, and the other groups need to agree or disagree. If they agree students one student in the group gets to shoot a ball (we like one that can't bounce and is fairly small; about the size of a baseball or softball). That student can decide if they want to shoot for two extra points or three extra points (based on taped lines on the floor). If a student misses the basket, but answers the question correctly they can erase two (2) X's from any group/team they want. They can split their points into different groups. If they get the basket from the first taped line on the floor, they can erase four  X's and if they get a basket from the second taped line, they can erase five X's. If the group gets the question wrong, they do not get to erase any X;s and we move onto the next group. The students are very competitive and it becomes a fun battle as to who will erase from which of the teams. Often times, they majority of the teams go against one, or teams align with one another. Once a team no longer has X's, they have to start adding X's back, following the same point value rules. This continues on until the end of the review questions.   Again, the team with the most X's wins.

The students absolutely LOVED this game.  I mean, really LOVED.  I hadn't seen my students so excited about math.  I think the competitive nature of the game gets the students hooked; and promotes students collaborating. This was a Pinterest tried and true success! I hope you can find a way to incorporate it into your classroom too!

These are just a few of the "treats" that I have used in my classroom with success.  They have not only been a treat for me, but for my students as well.  


  1. Grudgeball looks like so much fun! I wish I had a class this year so I could play!

  2. I think my kids would love this! I just may have to try something like this.