5 Essential Strategies for Teaching PreAlgebra

I have been teaching Prealgebra for ten years and in those ten years, I have learned a TON! Some strategies have worked and some have not. I have rounded up 5 of my best strategies to make teaching Prealgebra easier for you!

1.Create a community in your classroom

I always like to start each class by saying “Hello” to each of my students. If I don’t say “Hello,” I will find a way to somehow connect. This may mean asking how their game went, or how their other classes are going, or simply thanking my student for asking a question. Students have to know you genuinely care about them and their well-being. They can smell a fake a mile away! I often remind my classes that we are a team and are here for each other, to help each other grow as mathematicians. When you build community, you may see behavior issues go down and their “buy in” to math go up! 

2. Create Structure

Structure is key. There is no other way around it. Students thrive when they know what to expect in your classroom. Of course, there are unexpected events that can happen like school performances, fire drills, or rallies, but for the most part, students should know what to do in your classroom. Students should know where to turn in homework in your class. Students should how to check homework if they are absent. Students should know what to do upon walking through your doors. It’s really helpful that all of my lesson plans are easily accessible via the Prealgebrateachers.com Community, which has really helped me streamline my lesson planning and saved me a TON of time. My students complete a warmup everyday. I don’t have to say a word because they know to come in and get started…it’s a beautiful thing!

3. Embrace mistakes

It’s really important to create an environment in your classroom where mistakes are embraced. When students make mistakes in my classroom, I usually thank that student for their mistake because it allows for positive discussion. Other students can see that everyone makes mistakes and no one is being ostracized. Mistakes are considered wins in my classroom because my students know they are growing their brains and learning from mistakes.

4. Allow for productive struggle

While I think it’s important for students to complete daily classwork and homework, I also think it’s important for students to experience productive struggle. When students are struggling, I try not to instantly give answers. I will usually ask probing questions that GUIDE students to get to the answer or I will try to suggest where they can find the answer (like notes, for example). My students really struggle with abstract thinking; they often expect to complete problems through rote memory and an algorithm.  I like to give my students opportunities where they are productively struggling to enhance their math brains.

5. Have some fun

I have had a lot of success with incorporating classroom games and technology into my teaching. All of my lessons are now via Powerpoint (because all the lesson plans on prealgebrateachers.com are all on Powerpoint). I have also incorporated more classroom games like Spinner Math and Task Cards, which can all be found in the Prealgebrateachers.com Community. I also have incorporated math coloring pages, which surprisingly, my students love. Tapping into different learning modalities has been a huge a success and I encourage you to do the same!

Would you like a FREE self-assessment to see how you are doing with these strategies?

Click here: Prealgebra Teacher Self Assessment Strategies

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How to Get the Most of your Holiday Break

Let me first preface this post by saying that I am welcoming this holiday break with OPEN arms! We all need a break…teachers…students…administrators…Whether you have two weeks off, three weeks off, or maybe even a month (you lucky teacher, you!), here are some ways to have a successful, productive, and relaxing holiday break!

1.Shut Down!

Up until now, you’ve been going full speed ahead. Take one day (multiple if you can) and shut down from technology. Be present in enjoying your break. Don’t check emails…those can wait. Don’t even bother checking social media…it will still be there tomorrow so enjoy some “you” time.

 

2. Plan for at least 1 day upon return

Your life will be so much easier and far less stressful if you have your lesson plan already set up upon returning. I usually like to plan for the entire following week before leaving for break, but it is a really good idea to have your lesson plan figured out/worksheets printed for the day you come back. Knowing that you are already set to go upon returning will help you enjoy your holiday break without having to think about the classroom. Need some free PreAlgebra lesson plans?: Click here

3.Clear the clutter

Before leaving your classroom for holiday break, clear your desk. Wipe down your desk with a Clorox wipe (to clear of kid germs) and make sure that you can leave your work space nice and organized. Allowing yourself to come back to a classroom that is neat and tidy will lower your anxiety level. No one wants to come back to work after a nice break and see piles of paper and an overall mess…it stresses me out just thinking about it! <shudder>

4.Get caught up on work over the break…IF you WANT to

Feeling like you can get ahead of the curve over break is something I think most teachers feel. As teachers, I think most us tend to use our valuable breaks to get ahead and work a little. I would suggest that if you choose to work over the break, do so because you WANT to not because you HAVE to. Taking time off is essential to the job. We as teachers need to “reset.” It helps prevent burnout rate, especially among new teachers. If you are going to work, perhaps consider “blocking” out certain days or hours to dedicate to working so all other days/hours can be dedicated to relaxing and leisure.

5.Do what makes you happy

Over the holiday break, it’s imperative that you do what makes you happy. Take the time to enjoy you hobbies. Take the time to catch up on the latest season of your favorite Netflix show. Take the time to go the gym or take a yoga class. Take the time to enjoy playing with your kids. Most importantly, use the time to rejuvenate and invigorate your soul! Taking time for you will only make you a better teacher.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

Prealgebra Coloring Page

prealgebra, one step equations, middle school math

The few weeks leading up to Winter Break can be exhausting, and overwhelming. I know, as a teacher, I am balancing a lot at this time both professionally and personally. I created a fun way to celebrate the holidays with my class AND review one-step equations by adding/subtracting and Multiplying/Dividing. I hope your class enjoys these activities and it helps you feel a little less overwhelmed during this time! Enjoy! Download these awesome FREE coloring pagees!

Click here: Holiday Coloring Page_Multiply and Divide Equations 

Holiday Coloring Page_Add and Subtract Equations

For an entire chapter of FREE PreAlgebra Lesson Plans, click the button below:

 Click here for your FREE lesson plans!

Tired Teacher

PreAlgebra, free prealgebra lesson plans, fractions and decimals

 

Do you need some last minute PreAlgebra lesson plan ideas?  Maybe you were up all night with a crying baby, or maybe you were up late because  are still in school continuing your education, or maybe you just simply couldn’t sleep because you were worried about something. Let’s face it…we have all been there. The harsh reality is, when we have days where we feel like we can’t mentally teach, students will still be in your classroom. You will still need to provide them with an education and (hopefully) a positive experience with you…so what can you do? Here are some PreAlgebra lesson plan ideas to make these tough days a little easier!

1. Play a review game to review concepts

I like to play partner or group games with my class because it brings the energy up in my classroom and fosters interaction as well as student engagement. I like the play Tic Tac Math or Spin to Win, where students can partner up and review skills while having fun. Click the button below for a FREE Tic Tac Math and Spin to Win game to review decimals and fractions!

 

2. Turn to Technology!

If you haven’t experienced the world of Quizziz, you are missing out! Like Kahoot, Quizziz is an interactive online gaming tool that I use all the time in my classroom and it’s FREE! Check out this post on how to use Quizziz in your classroom and enjoy some already-made quizzes to try in your clasroom! The best part of Quizziz (in my opinion) is that students can go at their own pace in answering each question versus Kahoot where the group has to wait for the entire class to answer each question before moving on to the next question! Give it a try! It’s super fun, engaging, and interactive!

3) Create a board game

One of my favorite ways to ensure my students understand a concept (instead of test-taking) is having my students create a board game. This is great activity to do in your classroom when your students are getting squirrely, especially if you have a few days to spare. I will usually bust out this activity a few days before a long break (think Holiday/Christmas break or Spring Break). I will break my students up into groups (generally 3-4 students in a group) and assign a PreAlgebra concept to each group (IE: fractions, percents, Greatest Common Factor, etc.). Each group needs to create a game board with about 10-15 spaces, write the rules to their game, create questions that pertain to their assigned PreAlgebra concept, and create game pieces. I don’t usually have my students do anything fancy…just construction paper, glue, scissors, and some crayons. I allow them to be as creative as possible and it’s amazing what some students will come up with! On the last day of the project, we will play each others’ games!

 

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