Trying to be a good teacher to tweens takes a lot of work. Children from 10 to 13 years old manifest erratic and inconsistent behavior, which can be a challenge for teachers who have to introduce new and difficult concepts in their subjects, like advanced math problems. So, how to be prepared?
You can start by setting up the classroom! A study from The University of Salford found out that the classroom affects learning and academic progress by as much as 25%.
That’s why, in this article, we’ll share with you 10 math classroom ideas that will make you feel ready to take on anything. Not only will you learn new tactics that are designed to get high responsiveness from students, but these tactics will facilitate the learning process and make your job a lot easier.
So, without further ado, here are 10 unique ideas for setting up a middle-school math classroom.
Middle-School Math Classroom Ideas
- Math Posters
One of the easiest ways to make the classroom more visually stimulating and math-ready is to cover the walls with posters. We identified four types of posters that might be useful for your middle-school math classroom.
- Rules Posters – While all classrooms have the same rules in general, specific subjects might require some additional rules to be followed. Having fun and colorful M.A.T.H (Make it to class on time; Ask for permission to speak; Talk respectfully to your teacher and peers; Hand in your best work by checking it twice.) poster can be a great way to remind children about the essence of the class.
- Monthly Goals Posters – Children can handle things better if they know about them and anticipate them. Plus, knowing what’s coming and what’s expected from them will help children organize their learning activities.
- Topic Posters – The most typical math posters concern specific topics and operations. This is the main type of poster that should dominate your math classroom.
- Challenge Posters – Finally, you can also introduce challenge posters, which can feature a math challenge that students should solve in a certain period. The challenge should always be composed of the math problems that the children recently learned.
When choosing or buying the posters, you should be mindful of three things: insightfulness, colorfulness, and age-appropriateness. If you make sure these three conditions are met, then the posters will help you reinforce important concepts and skills, visualize abstract number operations, and facilitate the learning process until students feel comfortable doing the operations on their own. If you’d prefer, you can also make your own posters with your students, which turns learning about math into a creative activity too.
- Floor-size Number Line
A “number line” is a set of numbers written on colorful pieces of paper. This will allow you to arrange the pieces of papers on the floor in an ascending line (1,2,3,4,5, etc.), even/odd number lines (2,4,6,8, etc.), or any other combination that might help you visually introduce the concepts you’re teaching. Children can jump or move from number to number in a certain pattern or following certain rules. This is especially good for kinesthetic learners or little ones with lots of energy. You can even play math games.
Why do we believe this is an amazing math activity for the classroom?
In the book “How People Learn” the National Research Council argues that activities structured in ways allowing students to explore, explain, extend, and evaluate their progress help teach and learn mathematics.
If the classroom is used exclusively for mathematics, then you can even write the numbers directly on the floor in a line around the students’ chairs.
- Weekly Teacher Resource Containers
It’s a smart idea to have a bookshelf with containers in which you’ll organize the resources needed for that week’s math classes. However, this is totally subjective. You can also organize them by type of activity, or by the type of resources. It’s completely up to you.
The idea behind this organization system is that it will help you be prepared for the week and the upcoming challenges, so you can focus on finding the best ways to explain the matter and have some free time on your hands.
Plus, you can’t really improvize right on the spot when it comes to math. Most classes are mentally demanding and children need the support of high-quality teacher resources to aid them in grasping new concepts.
- Hands-on Math Tools
Just like we said – math is cognitively demanding and children can benefit from hands-on tools that will help them visualize and practice the concepts as they are introduced.
There’s a variety of different math flashcards, wrap-ups keys for multiplication and division, decimal dominos games, and so many other math manipulatives that you can buy online that will transform your classroom into a real math-learning center.
If you want to take things even further, you can use our article on the “5 Creative Ideas To Build A Hundreds Number Chart and 6 Activities for Young Learners” and make your own learning tools.
- Math Worksheets for Middle-Schoolers
Repetition is the mother of all learning, which means that after you introduce new math concepts to children, they’ll have to practice and repeat the equations/operations until they become a habit. However, the challenge is to find a way in which the repetition won’t be monotonous and tedious.
One effective way to achieve this is to utilize interactive middle-school worksheets for all of your math classes. On our website, you can find all of them in one place. We have math worksheets for decimal notation for fractions, lines and angles, line plots, measuring units, fraction operations, and so many more. Simply browse our worksheet library and see what you can implement in your math classes.
- Bulletin Boards
Bulleting boards are yet another way to make the math classroom more fun, interactive, and stimulating. They make learning visual, convey a variety of information, and make the work of students observable. Here are two bulletin board ideas that can help you set-up the perfect middle-school math classroom.
“Circle Math Tree!” is a creative bulletin board idea for learning geometry. Take your board, draw a wide tree on it, and ask children to draw circle leaves on green construction paper. The circles should be as big or as small as the children want them to be. After this, instruct students to label the leaf’s center, diameter, radius, and chord before pinning it on the board. Everyone should then pin their leaf on the tree and observe the relationship between the radius and the diameter.
“Fraction Color Board!” is a wonderful way of decorating your math classroom with the students’ hard work. Learning fractions in middle school can be a challenge, which is why playing with a variety of fun activities and then putting the results on the bulletin board is a great way to motivate children and make them proud of what they’ve achieved.
Of course, there are plenty of other ways to use bulleting boards in a middle-school math classroom. You can search for creative ideas online, or create one yourself.
- Math Calendar
You might have used a math calendar for the students in elementary school, but what you should know is that this also works for middle schoolers, too. In fact, it’s a great tool to add to your list when setting up a middle-school math classroom. The calendar can help children use problem-solving skills and retain information longer.
The only thing you should keep in mind is that the activities in the calendar should be fun and structured like games. This is because children learn better when difficult concepts are presented as math learning games. Plus, students will be a lot more involved and interested in the class.
What activities can you use to create a math calendar for middle-schoolers?
M&M’s fraction game, math baseball, math facts race, math tic-tac-toe, and so many more depending on your specific curriculum. After all, you can simply reuse any activities and games you’ve used in previous years, only adapt them to fit the current math calendar.
- “Math Is Everywhere” Wall
“Math Is Everywhere” is definitely one of the best wall decors for math classrooms. Plus, it’s great for students of all ages.
How does it work? Simply, ask children to share how and where they use the math concepts they’re learning about in daily life by drawing them or writing them down on a piece of paper. This will make them realize the importance of the concepts they’re learning and motivate them to study harder.
After all, not everyone wants to learn division operations, but everyone wants to know how to divide their daily activities so they have some time left for video games. This will help children relate math to their daily life, which will make learning it easier.
- Middle-School Math Supplies
No math classroom is complete without the proper supplies that will enable students to participate in all the activities. So, what are the math essentials for middle-schoolers that every classroom should behave? Here are a few suggestions:
- Individual whiteboards – Math is and should be an interactive lesson, which means that providing children with personal whiteboards will allow them to experiment with the new math concepts without worrying about making mistakes.
- Dry-Erase Markers – This is something that you and your students both need. While students will need them for their personal whiteboards and the dry-erase stickers, you’ll need dry-erase markers for the official classroom whiteboard. After all, math is definitely a subject where a lot of mistakes are being made as part of the natural learning process. Plus, you can use different color markers to make some parts of the text more visually stimulating.
- Calculator Organizer – As math classes advance, students start using calculators. Instead of worrying whether all of the students have brought a calculator to the class (which directly affects their involvement in the class), you can buy a calculator organizer. All students will get a number and will be only responsible to bring back the calculator into the organizer at the end of the class.
- Phone Storage Drawers – This handy classroom supply works for all classrooms, but it’s particularly beneficial during math lessons. It’s no secret that math is perceived as boring, especially for emotionally turbulent tweens. Mobile phones will only serve as a distraction and they’ll be tempted to use them as soon as things get a little more challenging. However, having phone storage drawers can change all that.
- Measuring Tape – Of course, you can use rulers and yardsticks, but we believe that measuring tapes are much more flexible and versatile when it comes to more advanced math problems, like fractions for example. The measuring tape also allows students to measure objects that have an irregular shape and are too large for the typical ruler – like most objects in the classroom. This will allow students to make operations with real-life objects around them, making math even more relatable.
- Dry-Erase Sticky Squares System
Dry-erase stickers are a versatile and reusable tool that you can use for basically everything. You can organize the classroom by placing stickers by the sides of each desk so every student has one in front of them. You can also use the stickers on the wall, or even on the floor.
What are the stickers good for?
First, for organizing the activities. You can use the stickers to write rules, instructions, make small groups, show the next steps, or give specific tasks by placing the stickers on each of the students’ desks.
Second, for brainstorming. You give each student a sticker, ask them to write an example, an opinion, or an answer on the sticker, and stick it on the board. Together, everyone can see how others think and how they find the answers.
Third, for taking notes. When introducing a new and difficult matter, it’s understandable that students won’t understand some of it and will have questions. The stickers can serve as a thought bubble where they can write their questions or uncertainties while you explain and then ask at the end of the lesson.
Before You Leave
Nothing is as difficult as it seems when you’re properly prepared, not even teaching math to moody pre-teens. This is why we shared our best math classroom ideas. This will help you organize weekly, monthly, or even yearly lesson plans, as well as visually stimulate tweens’ distracted brains. From large and colorful posters and floor-size number games, to individual whiteboards and dry-erase stickers, utilize these resources and you’ll be the teacher of the year!
And, last but not least, we can help you even further by providing high-quality, interactive worksheets in a variety of fields, a weekly newsletter, and an up-to-date blog with some of the most insightful articles on children’s school development and teacher’s resources. All you have to do is follow us regularly or join our worldwide teachers and homeschoolers’ community!
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Link will appear as 10 Ideas for Setting Up a Middle-School Math Classroom: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, September 30, 2020