Do you use a Daily Math Board in your classroom? I am here to tell you how I use Daily Math Boards in my classroom! When I taught Kindergarten, we started each day with a Calendar routine that practiced days of the week, the months, patterning, and other basic skills. When I moved up to teach higher grades, I created a Daily Math Board. We use it each day to reinforce number sense and mathematical thinking. By the end of the year, the core concepts for math are still fresh and deeply understood from daily practice.
Guest Post by Susanna Westby from Whimsy Workshop Teaching
The Daily Math Board
What Is It? The idea is simple: every day, practice one question from each of the math concepts to be studied through the year. I have found that this daily practice, both as a group and individually, facilitates deep understanding of the math curriculum.
What Is Needed? I use a mounted white board that has been divided into nine sections, like a tic-tac-toe board. One question from nine different math topics is written in each box; and each day we tackle the concepts in a different way or with different numbers. As students build confidence with repetition, the difficulty increases gradually.
What’s On It? The contents of each section will change through the year, depending on which concepts are mastered. With younger students, I would introduce just a few squares at a time, and increase the daily amount covered gradually so as not to overwhelm them.
The contents of the board change throughout the year. Here are some of the questions we use:
1. Mystery Number: Students use clues to decode the mystery number, and this changes each day. At first my clues are limited to the number before and after, but as the year goes on the clues become more complex. This also creates an opportunity to challenge more advanced students to either answer, or even create, the clues for the class.
2. Place Value: We use magnetic place value blocks to build a given number together, and then write it in expanded form. Other times, I add the base ten blocks, and students write the correct amount on the board.
3. Ways To Make: Students volunteer different “way to make” the given number. This can be completely open, or with an equation template that prompts them to find one addition equation, one subtraction equation, and one using both (as shown below). Even with a prompt, I like to allow for free choice; students usually discover patterns and rules this way, such as breaking the number apart into 1’s (1+1+1+1+1=5), or starting and ending at the same number (5+100-100+100-100=5). This is wonderful for math sense and discovering math patterns.
4. Tally Marks: Students practice basic adding (or subtracting) with single digits, then double digits, first without regrouping and then with regrouping. The daily practice reinforces tricky details such as making sure the numbers line up properly, and starting with the ones first. We also add a “tally marks” section here, which really helps to illustrate that the numbers in the tens column will need groups of ten tallies (not single tallies). This can be a difficult abstract concept to grasp unless it’s presented in this visual way.
5. Number Bonds: Students are prompted to write the four equations that are represented in the number bond image. We start with very low numbers and gradually increase.
6. Friends of Ten: I have number tiles up to ten, and students mix them all up and rearrange them in pairs that equal ten. We spend a long time on this because it is so important for number sense later. Once it is mastered, this spot on the board changes to practice doubles or triples. We also spend time ordering the months of the year!
7. Word Problems: We always being with very simple numbers and words; I want students to start their year thinking math is a breeze! I also don’t want non-readers to be held back in their math practice, so I repeat the same story several times with different numbers. On the Math Board, students are prompted to represent their thinking visually and numerically.
8. Spinner Math: We draw a dot on our starting number on the 120 Chart, and then spin to see what will happen next. Depending on where the spinner lands, they will either add 10 or 1, or subtract 10 or 1. Later we will add and subtract 20, 30, or 11, 12.
9. 120 Chart: The chart is used to solve and double-check answers from other parts of the board. Once that is done, I use it for other challenging questions that I keep on cards. For example,
“Start on 20. Count by tens.”
“Start on the 4th even number and add 3 tens.”
“Start on 50. Add 2 tens. Subtract 3. What number are you on? What is the equation?”
Tips and Variations
- Ask the star of the day to solve lead the lesson.
- Ask a group of students to solve the questions beforehand, and then they can collaborate together and explain to the class how they solved the problems.
- Ask more students to come up with the questions and be “the expert” of the day.
- Use my examples to help you form your own style of math board that works for your classroom.
Daily Math Board Workbook
For written work, my students have a Math Board Workbook – their own mini-version of our math board. They will work either alone or paired, and complete the questions either before or after we meet as a group. Their pages will match the question on the board. I have recently added a prompt at the bottom of each page for students to circle the questions that were tricky for them – this is great assessment information for me as I create future math lessons, and for goal-setting and reporting. Early finishers are prompted to explain their most challenging question, and this initiates valuable peer discussion about math strategies.
Susanna teaches grades K-3 in Vancouver, Canada. She has also worked as an intervention specialist and mentors new teachers. She lives with her two sons and her husband, who is a K-7 music teacher. You can find her teaching ideas and clip art on Teachers Pay Teachers, Whimsy Workshop Teaching.com or on Facebook.