Saturday, November 15, 2014

You Oughta Know About: Math Centers Aren't JUST for Elementary School

Hooray!  It's time to link up again with Jasmine for the You Oughta Know Blog Hop! :) 

 This month I am going to talk about how math centers are NOT just for elementary school!  

If you read my post earlier this week, I talked candidly about how what I was doing in my 6th grade math classroom was NOT working as well as I had hoped.  I had taught 10 years in elementary school, and I now had a time limit on my teaching, I was doing "older student" things like interactive notebooking, and independent practice,  I thought that there was NO WAY middle school students would go for cutesy math centers.   


As part of my reflection, I realized I was teaching WAY too fast without a lot of time for the students to practice.  I also learned that middle schoolers do not really like to ask a lot of questions or tell you if they don't understand something.  I also have less time to teach, and I needed more bang for my buck.  So, I went back to my old ways:


I'm learning along the way that middle schoolers are still just kids, only older.  I posted a picture on Instagram this week of putting stickers on their papers...THEY LOVE IT!  I even think they love it MORE than in elementary school because they don't really expect it, and they appreciate when you do it. :)

So, why wouldn't they still like cutesy math centers?


The reason I'm saying all this, is because in elementary school, I did guided math.  Coming from the elementary world into the middle school world, it was MUCH DIFFERENT.  There isn't much of guided anything (reading/math), so I didn't implement it at first, and I regret it now.  

One of the main things that my students told me on their suggestion cards that I had them write was "more time to practice, and help small groups that need it."  Hello!  GUIDED MATH! :)

So, I went back to my old ways on Thursdays.  It is now our "Math Activity Day".  On this day, I do some sort of activity with my students practicing the things that we did that week.  It's normally in the form of task cards that the students can work through independently (through the Kagan Strategy Showdown normally) while I work with a small group on the SAME activity that need my help.  

I'm very lucky that I have AMAZING students this year that work well together, and we also do ONE team building activity once a week (52 students on our team) where they mix and mingle with each other, which I think has totally transformed the way our students work with each other (hmmmm...that might need to me my next You Oughta Know...).  

For example, this week for guided math we worked with percents of numbers.  Our center activity this week was one with a grocery store sales paper.  The students LOVED this one!  

My students worked in pairs to answer the given questions that were on the task cards with the sales paper that they had.  Then I was left with a small group that I could work with on the same activity. That gave me the WHOLE HOUR with a small group to reinforce what we had done that week.  This has REALLY been working for me.   Also, it lets middle schoolers work cooperatively (I do this a lot) and they get to talk through the math center.  I have heard some AMAZING conversations about how to solve problems, strategies, etc.  The class also enjoys the centers because they get to socialize--what middle schoolers love the best. :)

We had a lot of fun, too at Halloween doing review math centers as well.  So much so I have some for Thanksgiving AND Christmas ready to go---and they are all cutesy.  Thank you, Krista at Creative Clips! :)  Be sure to also grab a free Christmas Math Center HERE:

 before you blog hop on today!  

So, if you're a middle school teacher, and haven't tried to implement guided math into your day or week---I HIGHLY recommend it!  My students have definitely made growth in the classroom since I have started it!!!

Be sure to check out these other great ideas from my fellow blogging buddies, too! :)


  1. I do Guided Math with my sixth graders and they love it just as much as my Kindergartners do!

    The Math Maniac

  2. I completely agree with you, Lori!! I taught fifth grade for 13 years before moving to 2/3 and used centers and task cards all the time with my students! They ARE just big kids!

    Mrs. Beattie's Classroom

  3. So many great ideas for using math centers in the upper grades! Thanks for sharing :-)

    Buzzing With Mrs. McClain

  4. Great idea! I love the idea of using the shopping ads. Teaching Science With Lynda

  5. Awesome! Great to see some elementary fun trickling into middle school :)

    Mrs. Plemons' Kindergarten

  6. Hi Lori,

    I love your honesty and I think every individual, regardless of their profession, should reflect on their best practices like you did! This is what allows us to grow and become much better versions of ourselves in life and our careers! =)

    A LoveLi Class


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