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My first two years of teaching went ok.  I was learning the ropes of running a classroom and honestly, just trying to survive.  I didn't have my students write too much, because "Hey, I teach Math."  The summer after my second year of teaching I took an intense master's class about math pedagogy...homework included.  I noticed something that the professor always had us do on our homework, and that was to explain our reasoning.  I suddenly had as much writing on my homework as I did actual math.  I quickly learned the value of writing in a math classroom.  To be able to actually explain in words how to do the math, takes the math to a deeper level.  Students have to actually think about the why instead of just passing through meaningless algorithms.  Also, as a teacher, have you ever tried grading a student's work, and you are just not quite sure if they understand the concept?  Having students write their thinking can take your math in your classroom to a deeper level, and seriously, grading papers becomes an easier task.  No more second guessing if the student really understands or not.  If they can accurately explain their reasoning you know that they really understand the concept.  

There are a few ways you can have your students write in the math classroom.  One strategy is in a notebook.


You can give writing prompts on the board, a classroom screen, or on task cards and have the students write in their notebooks.  One suggestion that I enforced in my classroom was that they had to write in complete sentences.  I also put a minimum of three sentences.  Many students went beyond three sentences, but I learned I needed a minimum for some students in my classroom.  Also, another strategy I often incorporated was to have them include an example of what they were explaining.


You can also had out slips of paper and use them as exit slips. 


This is a great way to see how much your students understood the lesson.  Hand out the slips of paper with the writing prompt and have them complete the writing and hand it to you as you walk out the door.  Also, as a side note, if students know they have to complete these to leave class, they will be very engaged in the lesson ;). 

You can also use these slips of paper as openers.  Hand them to students as they walk in the classroom, and collect them when they are complete.  This also helps students not be tardy, because they have an assignment write when class begins.

Writing in my math classroom, seriously took my class to a new level.  If you have not yet tried writing, I highly suggest you do.  

If you want 50 prompts for your 7th grade or 8th grade math classrooms, or the product in the photos you can click on the links below.

CLICK HERE FOR 50 7TH GRADE PROMPTS, TASK CARDS AND WRITING SLIPS

CLICK HERE FOR 50 8TH GRADE PROMPTS, TASK CARDS AND WRITING SLIPS




1) Make Sense of Multiplication
Students need to make sense of the meaning of multiplication in terms of groups.  Students may have previously learned multiplication as repeated addition, though this is accurate, extend their understanding to multiplication as meaning groups of.  For example, 2(x + 3)  means 2 groups of x plus 3.  Another example, 3(y - 1) means 3 groups of y minus 1.

2) Model the Expression with Manipulatives
Algebra tiles are great for modeling expressions, however, if you do not have Algebra tiles you can either make them with paper, or use objects to represent the variables and constants.  Have your students model the expression.  For example, they know that 2(x + 3) means  2 groups of x plus 3.  So now model the expression with manipulatives.  See photo for example.



Model with manipulatives for 3(y - 1)




After students model the expression have them write down what they see with combining like terms.


If your students see the connection between the initial expression and the simplified expression at this point, that is great.  If they don't, that is ok.  Your goal for this step is that they conceptually understand multiplying expressions. 

3) Model the Expression with Symbols
Now, instead of using manipulatives have your students write out the variables and the constants.  In the photo the expression 2(x+3) is modeled by writing out the groups. 



Here is the model for 3(y -1)


Again, have your students write the simplified version after modeling.  At this point, if your students have not already noticed the "shortcut" guide them through questioning. Ideally you want your students to make the connection so they retain the information.  


4) Multiply using the Distributive Property
Once your students have a strong conceptual understanding of the distributive property move on to actually using the property when multiplying.  Students should understand that every term from one expression needs to be multiplied by every term of the other expression.  Understanding this concept will greatly help them when multiplying binomials.  One strategy I use with my students are circling the terms including the signs. This helps students not miss the negative signs.  

Another strategy is drawing lines.  Lines become extremely helpful when multiplying binomials and beyond.  


If you don't have time to make your own notes about the distributive property, YOU CAN CLICK HERE TO USE MINE.  I've included two pages of notes to guide students in discovering the distributive property as well as FUN and ENGAGING stations so they can practice what they have learned. 



     



Middle School is a time of transition for many students. As part of this transition, we as teachers expect them to start taking on more responsibility. Part of the problem, however, is that students change at different times and not all when we want them to.

My first year of teaching my idea was that every student would have a notebook and they would just listen to me and take down the notes from the board. My idea was to review their notebooks every so often to make sure they were getting down the notes. After reviewing their notebooks I saw that some students had great and fantastic notes just as I had wanted. However, others notebooks were empty, others had drawings, others had notes to friends, others were trying to take notes but they were very incomplete. I quickly learned that my idea was not very effective. Not because they didn't want to, but because they did not have the skills to do so. I didn't want to completely give up on my efforts to help them learn this life skill. However, I realized that having them take all the notes was not going to be effective and so I needed to find a balance between them taking notes and also them getting all the information.

 I decided to incorporate writing at the beginning of class through openers. Everyday I would have an opener on the board and they would have to write at least 3 complete sentences.  I felt like I was supporting language arts in my classroom. What I started doing, was having guided notes for them. I found some online that were good enough. They were not exactly what I wanted, but they would work, as I knew I didn't have time to make them as thorough  as I wanted them. I found this to be a very effective method; they were paying attention so they could complete their notes but it was they weren't so many notes that they were getting behind or lost.

After I took a break from the classroom and started making curriculum, I tried to  think of materials that I wish I had but didn’t. Of course, guided notes were at the top of my list. I knew this was something that I wanted to make. But I kept putting it off because I knew it was going to be a lot of work to get them as thorough as I thought that they should be. But I finally dove into creating them and I am so happy with the final product.

If you are interested in using some guided notes, check them out here. I currently have seventh grade completed, and will soon have eighth grade completed.

They are aligned to the common core. My goal is to have them as thorough and complete as possible. Feel free to email me at makesenseofmath@yahoo.com if you have comments or suggestions about them.
Middle School is a time of transition for many students. As part of this transition, we as teachers expect them to start taking on more responsibility. Part of the problem, however, is that students change at different times and not all when we want them to.

My first year of teaching my idea was that every student would have a notebook and they would just listen to me and take down the notes from the board. My idea was to review their notebooks every so often to make sure they were getting down the notes. After reviewing their notebooks I saw that some students had great and fantastic notes just as I had wanted. However, others notebooks were empty, others had drawings, others had notes to friends, others were trying to take notes but they were very incomplete. I quickly learned that my idea was not very effective. Not because they didn't want to, but because they did not have the skills to do so. I didn't want to completely give up on my efforts to help them learn this life skill. However, I realized that having them take all the notes was not going to be effective and so I needed to find a balance between them taking notes and also them getting all the information.

I decided to incorporate writing at the beginning of class through openers. Everyday I would have an opener on the board and they would have to write at least 3 complete sentences.  I felt like I was supporting language arts in my classroom. What I started doing, was having guided notes for them. I found some online that were good enough. They were not exactly what I wanted, but they would work, as I knew I didn't have time to make them as thorough  as I wanted them. I found this to be a very effective method; they were paying attention so they could complete their notes but it was they weren't so many notes that they were getting behind or lost.

After I took a break from the classroom and started making curriculum, I tried to  think of materials that I wish I had but didn’t. Of course, guided notes were at the top of my list. I knew this was something that I wanted to make. But I kept putting it off because I knew it was going to be a lot of work to get them as thorough as I thought that they should be. But I finally dove into creating them and I am so happy with the final product.

If you are interested in some guided notes for your classroom I have got you covered!

CLICK HERE FOR 7TH GRADE GUIDED NOTES
CLICK HERE FOR 8TH GRADE GUIDED NOTES


As always, I am committed to quality products.  Any questions or comments please feel free to email me at makesenseofmath@yahoo.com

Michelle

Great post on the benefits of using guided notes in your middle school math classroom.  Great for any 7th grade or 8th grade teacher who is looking for teaching ideas for math. #makesenseofmath



1) Give your students a TEST!  
You want to know what your students know and what they don't know.  What better way to assess their understanding than a test.  Better yet, you can hand them a test right when they walk in the door.  Tell them where to sit, and tell them to work on the test the entire period.  This way you can look at the tests later and better plan what you need to review with your students.

2) Be super strict and NEVER crack a smile
You want your students to respect you, right?  Well, you better let them know that you are in charge.  If your students see any weakness in you, especially the first day, they will take advantage of you the rest of the year.  Be stern, be strict, lay down the law, and most importantly NEVER crack a smile. 

3) Make your students feel like failures
Give your students some really hard math problems the first day.  Tell them that their understanding of these problems will go on their grade. Better yet, put them into groups and let them talk about these math problems.  Those students who are afraid of math will feel so stressed out, they will feel like they failed on the very first day. 

These are great tips to make sure your math students feel super stressed out on the first day.

I hope you caught my sarcasm in this post.  Many students are afraid of their new math class before they even walk in the door.  Love them, respect them, make them feel like winners and that they can be successful.  Be careful with giving  pre-tests the first day....or even the first week.  Once the relationship between your students and you is more solid, and routines are in place, pre-tests can be given.

Thank you for having courage to teach math.  May you have a great year!


Great ideas to have a great start in your middle school math classroom. Things not to do on the first day so that your students are not stressed out.  Great read for all teachers. #makesenseofmath

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