If you read my guest post over at Think, Wonder, and Teach last week, you learned a little more about my journey to love math. Math was always my favorite subject as a student until I hit high school geometry sophomore year. I’m great with numbers, but anything to do with spacial reasoning and shapes just isn’t my thing. As I look back at what when wrong on my education journey, I also realized that my geometry teacher wasn’t really excited about math either. When my weakness was paired with a less-than-enthusiastic teacher, my motivation to learn went out the window. Recognizing that, I’ve made it my personal goal this year to do more with math engagement in our classroom. Fortunately, I don’t have to reinvent the wheel every day because there are lots of fabulous teachers out there with motivating math ideas.
The first idea has been challenging for my students, but because I teach the highest ability class, I wanted to try it. Math Spies is blog set up as math puzzles. Students navigate through the blog as they solve the problems. It reminds me of the Choose Your Own Adventure chapter books and the format is extremely motivating. If you teach older students, I think they’d love Math Spies!
The second idea is one I briefly shared with you last week as I was gearing up for my Innovation series. It didn’t get its own post, so I wanted to touch on it again. Symbaloo is a free website that lets you turn your computer’s bookmarks into a game board. I saw Adrienne at Unless Teaching using it for her math workshop and just had to try it with my students. I was able to grab her board to get me started and then add and remove tiles to personalize the board for my students. My favorite tile is a free flashcard program called Xtramath.org. You can give each student a free account to practice their facts. The program tracks their progress to move them through addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. The website will even email you when a student completes a level so you can print out a certificate. My students are LOVING the board. You can have them play from the Symbaloo website itself or you can copy/paste the game board onto your own class website. If you like my board, feel free to grab it for your class and make changes as needed.
Finally, I just found a new fraction lesson last week. Amanda at The Teaching Thief made fun Fraction Me people with her students. Students used colorful squares to create self-portraits. Then they used fractions to describe their creations. I plan to work with ordering fractions, equivalent fractions, and numerator/denominator review when I teach this lesson next week. I grabbed one of her images to tease you into going over to her blog to see all of her cute examples. You’ll be glad you did!
I have more motivating math ideas to share with you in the future. Until then, what are some of your favorites?