I absolutely LOVE math. There’s something about numbers and figuring out solutions that thrill me as an educator. Figuring out how to put together my math block was a challenge though. “Do I have a solid intro?” “Is there enough hands-on instruction?” “How do I manage my small group time?” “What about my independent stations for the week?” All are thoughts I’ve had when planning my math block, I’m sure you can relate. Below I’ve compiled a list (with the help of some amazing educators) of 11 Ways to Kickstart Your Math Block. This way, you know you’ve got a solid start to get your students thinking mathematically. Be sure to check out #2, #3, #5, and #8!
Way #1 Get Your Music on! (Sing Songs)
A number of teachers I spoke with mentioned songs as their way of beginning math instruction. I am here for this! Coming from someone who randomly breaks out into Disney movie choruses, I love it! Did you know Jack Hartman has an entire YouTube channel devoted to songs for students? So if you haven’t heard of him, I highly recommend checking him out asap. Pick a song or two and let the students sing as they get out math notebooks or as they transition into math from another area.
Of course, our Master Mathematicians at ETTC have a resource to get your math block started! Our newest math resource, Math Warm-Ups, includes 45 weeks of NO-PREP spiraled math review. The questions cover ALL math domains and EVERY skill within those domains. They are designed for daily review and were built with the STUDENTS in mind. Colorful graphics and easy-to-read layouts will keep your students engaged throughout. Got early finishers? No problem, the majority of the warm-up slides have EXTENSION questions embedded! Woo-hoo!
#3 Talk the Talk with Number Talks
Two words. NUMBER TALKS. I am a huge believer in Number Talks. Number Talks are designed to help children build mental math and computation strategies. Sherry Parrish’s book Number Talks introduced me to the concept 3 years ago. Number Talks are designed to be quick, purposeful, computation problems displayed for the students to see. Students have a minute or so to think of a way to solve the problem, using only mental math. After that minute, students share out their ways of thinking while the teacher records the responses for all to see. This puts the focus on the different ways students solve problems and builds on a student’s mental math capabilities. Want to see this in action with Subitizing? Check out this video with Mr. Thain on YouTube.
#4 Hocus Pocus, Everybody Focus (on the Math Wall)
Do you have an empty pocket chart laying around? If so, turn it into a Math Focus Wall! Here is where you can include the current math skills, review questions, math vocabulary, and more! Search Math Focus Wall on Pinterest or Math Word Wall on TpT for some inspiration! Don’t have a pocket chart? It’s okay! You can use tape or magnets to attach it to a wall/whiteboard.
Way #5 Alright Stop…it’s Calendar Time!
Calendar Time is CRUCIAL in my book. During this time you can cover 5-10 math/writing skills! So why wouldn’t you have Calendar time? I understand the time constraints for some, but those of you who are able, give it a try! Picture this: Kids are at their desks, with their math/calendar journals and pencils. Have them write the date first, “Today is ___ March ___, 2021.” Then, include a sentence on specials or a sentence on the weather, “The weather today is ___.”
Next, take attendance by having a student count the number of boys and girls and turn it into a math problem, “___ boys + ___ girls = students.” This will help you remember to submit attendance too. Throughout all of this, if you have a physical calendar or songs, INCLUDE THEM! Finally, wrap it up with our ETTC Math Warm-Ups. Display the day’s slide and have the students complete the problems in their journals! AWESOME right?
#6 Number of the Day
Another way to begin your math block is by incorporating a Number of the Day. Each day you have a different number that the students look at in various ways. Some might include:
-Writing it in number form, word form, or expanded form
-Modeling it with Base Ten blocks
-Adding one more, ten more, or one hundred more
-Subtracting one less, ten less, or one hundred less
-Using it in a word problem
-Skip counting to reach the number
Again, search Number of the Day on Pinterest and you’ll see many ideas that teachers have to start your math block this way!
#7 Math Flash Cards
A tried and true way to start math, or for any time of day really. Keep a deck of flashcards within reach during the day. When you’re waiting for students to finish in the bathroom, pull out the flashcards. If you’re transitioning into math instruction and waiting for technology to load, pull out the flashcards. Flashcards are an easy, no-prep way to begin math. Simply hold up a card and have students raise their hand to answer, chorally call it out, compete in groups, etc.
Way #8 SPLAT!
SPLAT! Created by Steve Wyborney, this way to start your math block incorporates hidden numbers to increase a student’s visual thinking. An image is presented with dots showing and an unknown amount hidden under a large SPLAT! The goal is for the students to look at the given total and the amount shown to figure out how many are hidden under the SPLAT! Can you imagine the engagement when the kids see the giant SPLAT on the screen? Got a fly swatter? Use it to help drive home the SPLAT concept by physically “splatting” the image.
#9 Drills- Minute Math/ Speed Math
A lot of teachers mentioned drills as their way to start math. Either through Minute Math, Speed Math, or others, they enjoy using the quick drills to get the students thinking. You can look up Minute Math on TpT by Tara West and find her 150 Fluency Drills for math. SuperSpeed Math is a Whole Brain Teaching method where students do something for one minute to set their record and then work to beat their records.
#10 5 a Day Math
5 a Day Math is a resource you can grab from TpT. It’s spiraled math review in a ONE PAGE format. Just print on legal-sized paper and you are ready to go! Skills are in 3-week chunks to help build mastery of the content.
#11 Mad Minutes
Here we have another awesome TpT resource for starting your math block. Mad Minutes are half sheets of 30 problems for fluency practice. The goal, according to creator Kim Tighe, is to foster a student’s goal-setting through independent graphing and data tracking. Sounds pretty neat if you ask me so be sure to check it out.
Like I mentioned at the start, math instruction is my absolute favorite! I hope that comes across as you read about the incredible ways to kickstart your math block! Make it fun, make it quick, and make sure it is student-centered! Good luck and let us know which one you plan to try!
Written by: Heather Wagoner
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