Middle School Math Everything

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My All Time Favorite Middle School Math Lessons and Activities!

I’m teaching high school now, but here are the lessons that I miss the very most.  These are my “Must Do” lessons.  I have a few friends who will teach middle school math (or Algebra 1) for the first time this year.  Thanks to Jami for the inspiration for organizing these lessons.  It’s been a walk down memory lane for me.  I really miss middle school.

My All Time Favorite Lessons

These lessons really kicked ass.  Not only did I love teaching them, but students had a blast.  Best of all, these are the lessons that students learned the most from.  They were totally engaged and the ideas stuck.  Of course my number one lesson of all time is Barbie Bungee.  And, I just realized that I never blogged about some of my all time favorite lessons!  Goals!

  1. Barbie Bungee (Linear equations), 2 – 4 days.  I can never, ever say enough about this lesson.  It is my students favorite every year.  The last year, I even bought cheap tiaras for the winning group.  YES, the boys wore them.  My only regret was not dressing up like Barbie after seeing Matt and Fawn do it.
  2. The Black Death (Ratio and proportions), 1 day.  This is great for a cross-curricular activity if your students are learning about the middle ages as well.  Be sure to play the turn off the lights and play scary medieval music during the lesson! Also, you will find out years later that your students memorized every word to the “Fleas On Rats” YouTube video you showed them and will sing it everytime “Hollar Back Girl” comes on.  Epic.
  3. Monster Math (Introduction to solving equations), 2 days and ongoing.  There is NOTHING worse in the world than trying to make 6th graders (read boys) write down every step when they are solving equations on paper for the first time, nothing.  This makes equation solving so fun and helps them understand what is happening.  Be sure to do the “Pass the paper” activity in the lesson so your students have no choice but to write their steps down.  But don’t worry, they will WANT to so they can draw extra monsters!  Protip:  Wear the hat!
  4. Army Men and Circle Stickers for Learning Integer Operations (Negative Numbers), 2 – 3 days and ongoing.  So, I know that army men killing each other is not “PC”.  BUT, it’s such a fun way to illustrate a zero pair that it has to be done.  I start with Army Men (days 1-2), then move onto Circle Stickers for a few days.  Let them use the men and the stickers on the first few assessments!  They won’t always need them, I promise!
  5. Paper Airplanes for Measures of Central Tendencies (Mean, Median, and Mode, and negative numbers), 2 days.  AND following directions, and negative numbers.  When students throw their plane and it goes backwards you get bonus math.  What is the furthest distance from the negative distance minus the longest distance?  Subtraction of a negative!!  This is the a very visual way to see subtract of a negative.
  6. Mathemagic (More advanced simplifying equations and equation solving), 2 days.  I love this because even beginner can do very advanced equations very quickly.  Plus, who doesn’t love magic?  The hook is when you guess their numbers, so don’t forget to do that first!
  7. The Pattern Function Connection (learning the connection between patterns, tables, and graphs and how to write a function from a pattern).  2 days or 2 weeks, however  much you want to use it.  It goes great with Fawn’s Visual Patterns.  I used this in 6th grade, and this year I will use it in Honors Algebra 2.  Classic.
  8. Square Root Cheez-Its (Square roots, perfect squares), 1 day.  I used this in MS and in 9th grade geometry.
  9. Playdoh and Cheerios for Volume  (Discovering volume formulas), 1 – 2 days.  Students know many of the formulas, but slicing playdoh helps them discover what the formulas mean.  You can also use marshmallows instead of cheerios.
  10. Algebra Tiles, Ongoing.
  11. The CLAW (Distributive Property), 1 day then ongoing.  Thank you Sean for introducing me to the CLAW!!  It’s so much fun and when we factor, we are retracting the claw!
  12. Ski Slopes and Slope Guy (Slope – Puff, puff positive), 1 day.  Don’t write off the video, I promise your students will love it.  And, it will help them!
  13. Equation of a Line Song (y = mx + b), 1 day then ongoing.  My students still sing this song and will never ever forget what a 0 slope or undefined slope look like.  I miss it!!
  14. Fraction Song, 2 days then ongoing FOREVER.  I have hs students who see me out and tell me they sing it all of the time.  Songs are a fantastic way to access their memory!  (I just read “Make It Stick”).
  15. Geometry Booklets, 1 unit.  This made the 1 million Geometry terms you have to go over in MS fun.  And they can keep it for later classes.
  16. M&M Percents (need to blog), 1 day.  Paper plates, M&M’s and percents.  I did this activity the first day of our percent unit.  I found the somewhere and loved it.  I can’t believe I never blogged about it.
  17. Kinesthetic Algebra (Introducing Variables), 1 day.  I still use this with HS students.  It is a short activity that gets a lot of ah-ha! moments.
  18. Turning Words into Math (Translating Algebraic Expressions), 2 days.
  19. Fibonacci Rabbits (need to blog), 1 day
  20. Factor Craze and Pascal’s Triangle (Factors and Exponents), 1 – 2 days
  21. Solving for Y with Cups and Kisses (Solving equations for a variable), 1 day
  22. Goldfish – Capture Recapture (Ratios and Proportions), 1 day
  23. Dominoes Pizza (Linear equations), 2 – 4 days.  This is a free Mathalicious lesson.

My Favorite Activities

  1. White Boards – Individual and Mega
  2. Problem Solving – Fawn is the queen, and her site will help you!  Kids love it!
  3. Math Stations – Great for review days.  I also did this with proof writing in Geometry.
  4. Trasketball – Awesome review game.  Kids can get too competitive.
  5. Speed Dating – Great to get kids working with different people all period. HS students will be embarrassed bc of the name and work quietly. lol!
  6. Flyswatter Game – Protip:  Buy sturdy flyswatters, and have extras!
  7. Draw It!
  8. Dry Erase Necklaces
  9. Mathalicious Lessons – my students loved these and they were very structured so they were easy for me to implement.

My Favorite Technology

  1. Desmos
  2. PearDeck
  3. Mathalicious
  4. Kahoot!
  5. Plickers
  6. Remind
  7. Socrative

Middle School Bloggers

Check out the fabulous middle school math teachers below!  These teachers believe in the #MTBoS gift culture community as promoted by Dan, Kate, Sam, Fawn, Megan and every other math teaching blogger that I follow.  We all give and share freely on our blogs and at webinars like Global Math.  If you know of (or HAVE) your own fabulous Middle School Math blog and would like to be a part of our community – PLEASE add it to the comments below so I can add you to my page!

To add your blog to this page, click here to fill out the form.

Creative Commons License
I Speak Math Materials by Julie Reulbach is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at https://ispeakmath.wordpress.com.

75 thoughts on “Middle School Math Everything

    • I also am looking forward to following this blog and think the list of fellow bloggers is awesome. Collaboration through social through social media is new to me, but I am already finding it so helpful!

  1. Hi! I just started a blog and my blog is
    http://educationprospector.wordpress.com/

    I really like your blog and I appreciate you posting other peoples blogs here as well. Also, I enjoy Pinterest as you do…I am Cathy Jeremko on pinterest.

    I am very excited to find other middle school math teachers who would be interested in collaborating on some social media projects next school year!

  2. I’ve been working on building mine recently. The blog is ibreezethroughmath.blogspot.com and I’m currently writing a series on things teachers can do over the summer to make their August/September easier!

  3. I really enjoy your blog! I have found so many awesome resources and strategies. I bought a book from a conference. It is called the Outstanding Math Guide (OMG). It is a book of graphic organizers and how to creatively place them inside of a folder. My had my students create it last year. I realized that it helped bring their state-mandated test scores up.
    I thought that I should share a resource with everyone since I have borrowed so many strategies.
    Dana

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      • I’m not sure what happened … WordPress deactivated the blog with no explanation. If I did something wrong, I don’t know what it was. I wish that if I had broken some term of agreement that I could know what it was so I can learn from that mistake but wordpress won’t answer my emails.

        I am creating a self-hosted blog … http://instillnessthedancing.com/ for my inspirational writing. Been thinking for some time about separating the blog into 2 since the content is very different.

        So … I’m not sure how to get the word out …
        http://instillnessthedancing.com/ for inspirational reading
        http://algebrasfriend.blogspot.com/ for math

        It will take me a few days to build the content back up on the math one.

      • Julie –
        Wordpress finally contacted me … I included a link (yes, just one!) in my “related links” at the bottom of a post on New Year’s Eve that shut the blog down. It’s restored now. I will create a post there that directs my readers to my new platforms!

        Beth

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  11. These links don’t appear to be working:
    7th Grade Math Mania
    Awilda’s Daughter
    Fast Times of a Middle School Math Teacher
    Fawn Nguyen
    in stillness dancing => moved to: http://algebrasfriend.blogspot.com/
    Kimberly Howard
    Out Rockin’ Constantly
    Shyra Dawson (would not load)
    Solving Problems

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  15. Thanks for the comprehnsive list! Can you add mine to the list, please?
    Mathematic Fanatic – 6th Grade Math Teacher
    mathematicfanatic.wordpress.com

    Thanks!

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