How to Kill Time in Math Class

I’m teaching a pilot program prep class for the state standardized test, and one of the biggest problem is that there wasn’t enough material planned for each class meeting.

When we had issues last week, one of the kids suggested a game of Hangman. At first, I wanted to say “no”, but then I quickly saw an opening to turn it into something useful. “Sure,” I agreed, “as long as all the terms are math-related.” My kids weren’t exactly thrilled, but they quickly got into the spirit. They put up the order of operations spelled out. They put up shapes, math facts, vocabulary with definitions. It was amazing to watch.

This week, we were once again short for material in many of the class sections. The first time we needed material, I wrote a series of fractions all over the board, and they took turns going up and creating equivalent ratios. During our next few breaks, I had the students take turns creating problems for each other. Their problems were incredible. They weren’t simple. There was a order of operations problem, a couple solving for x, some factoring and multiplying of polynomials. To end the class, I had them race to fill the board first with prime numbers and then with composite numbers. They were so cute as they corrected each other’s numbers and tried to write a number before a classmate.

I wonder what we’ll do for our last class meeting…

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