Every teacher faces the challenge of keeping students interested and involved in lessons. I’ve found that having some basic activity ideas that are easy to implement, and student-orientated, gave students something to do that was related to the curriculum, but didn’t require a lot of preparation on my part. All of these ideas should be used as a review of a math skill, practice after learning a skill, or simply as a time-filler for extra minutes in the day.
Quizzes: Students can create quizzes to give each other. It is important to make sure students are given the kind of questions to write: multiple choice, short answer, fill-in-the-blank, or computation, and the topic (fractions, decimals, etc . . .). They need to make sure to skip lines between questions. The number of questions can vary depending on how much time you have for the activity. It will also depend on the ability level of the class/group. Students need to make an answer key on a separate sheet of paper. This is probably the most important aspect of the assignment. Making the key ensures that students understand what they are asking, and, most importantly, that they know the answer. You can manage this activity in a fun way as well. Students can get up and move around the room to music. Once the music stops, they have to find a partner and trade papers. Students can do the entire quiz with their new partner, or only answer one question and move on when the music starts. If they are with the same partner, they can grade each other’s quizzes at the end. If they change partners, they can grade the question before they change.
Word Problems: By writing their own word problems, students can begin to understand how to solve these types of problems. Once students have grasped a mathematical concept, and practiced solving prepared word problems, they can write their own. You should model how to write a word problem before setting the students loose. Once they understand, you can have them try one on their own, after giving them the general ideas and information to be included in the problem. After writing their first problem, you can give them feedback. If they’ve got the idea, you can have them write word problems on their own.
Scavenger Hunts: These are great to do and fun for students. In addition, they are easy to prepare. Take a sheet of paper, and fold it into thirds. The top of the flap should contain a letter. The underside of the flap should contain a problem, equation, fraction, decimal, etc . . . On the bottom of the sheet there should be an answer to a problem contained on the inside flap of another “letter.. Students walk around the room, looking at the problems under the flaps, and try to find the answers on another sheet with a different letter. For example, Sheet “A” will have 2+4 on the underside. The bottom of the flap will say 10. Sheet “B” will have 5+5 on the underside and 6 on the bottom. On their recording sheet should be three columns. Column one should be labeled Letter, the second Problem, and the third should say Answer. Once they finish, the last answer should be on the first problem they began with. As a hint, the teacher should create an answer train prior to writing out the sheets (E, F, B, C, A, D, G, J, I, H, E). This will help eliminate trying to remember what answer went with what question.
Worksheets: I have found that worksheets are a bit boring sometimes, and did not challenge my gifted students who knew the material well enough. One of the ways I challenge them is by asking them to create their own worksheet, and try to use as many different types of questions as possible. Students also like to create puzzles or word searches out of numbers.
Math Stories: Most students enjoy having a creative outlet. My students always enjoy turning a math concept into an illustrated story. I give them the idea of making the story to try to teach the concept to a younger student. They can use notebook paper, construction paper, or a word processing program. This lesson is easy to integrate into a grammar or writing lesson. You can have students go through the step of the writing process. They can make or find images to correlate with the story and create a book. I read and grade the stories after they are turned in, and then take my class to see our kindergarten buddies and read our books.
Here are a few math lesson plans that are simple and easy to implement in any routine.