I teach 6th and 7th grade math so I get my students for two years in a row. The beginning of 7th grade year is a review of their entire 6th grade year. It’s fabulous because I get to go pretty fast through the material and only focus on what they need. I don’t usually need to teach the entire lesson again and they did the discovery activity the year before. This leaves plenty of time to practice, practice, practice!
This year I’ve had much more fun than ever before with in class practice thanks to the great math teachers at TMC12. This summer I learned all about their favorite things, many of which included fun ways to practice.
I have found that practice is more effective when I put kids in groups or with a partner and either play games or do a fun activity. I never, ever just give them a worksheet to work on.
Right now my favorite activity is Rachel’s math “placemats”. I made a dry erase template for the activity and called it “Add It Up”. All you need to play is a worksheet and a template. You can use any worksheet that you have. To play, two or four students work on individual problems and then add the sum up and write it in the middle. I check the sum. If it’s correct, they move on. If it is incorrect, they don’t know which problem is incorrect. I usually tell them to work each others problem.
This is a great way to differentiate. I usually have the students work with students that work at the same “pace” as they do so one student doesn’t get frustrated. Everyone can thus work at their own pace. Quicker students move from the easier problems at the beginning to the work difficult ones. And, I put incredibly difficult problems at the end. It’s the one day when I can really challenge my highly gifted students. I can also take time to sit with my students that need more help and do some re-teaching.
My other favorites are games. I’ve had the kids play Zero lately with cards and they love it. I’ve also made block games (from Cheesemonkey) this year and puzzles. I’m using a puzzle for the first time in two weeks as a challenge exercise so I’ll see how it goes!