Archive | November, 2012

Writing Linear Equations Centers

9 Nov

Currently my PreAlgebra students are working through a chapter on writing linear equations. I wanted to come up with some centers for them to review what we’ve been working on in class. I did these centers with them yesterday in class and it went really well. The kids did great and I think almost all of them found the centers to be helpful. Here’s the overview of each center along with some shots of the centers in action.

  • Wicked Whiteboards

I created two sets of cards: 1 set of cards with a point on them, and 1 set with a slope. Students took turns drawing a slope card and a point card. Then everyone in the group wrote an equation for the line that passes through the slope and the point. Having the students all do the same problem is great because then they can check each others’ work. Also my whiteboards have a coordinate plane on the back so they could practice finding an equation by graphing as well.

I think the kids did really well with this center. They love drawing on the whiteboards and worked well in their groups to help each other write correct equations.

  • Amazing Activities

For this center I created “Graphing Go Fish” cards. Half of the cards were graphs with a linear equation drawn on them. The other half were the equations that matched the graphs. Students had to get pairs by matching the equations and graphs.

This activity was the students’ favorite. They loved playing Go Fish and it was great to hear them saying the equations aloud.

  • Puzzle Time

For this center I created a Tarsia puzzle where the problems were two points (ordered pairs), and students had to match these up with the correct  equation. If they do this all correctly the smaller triangles fit together to form a large triangle.

Students do well with these puzzles. They always try to get it finished, and they know they have a short amount of time to work on it so they work quickly and well together.

  • Small Group Instruction

This week for SGI I passed back their quizzes from earlier in the week and then went over some of the problems with each group. Then I had time to individually conference with students that may have done poorly on the quiz. It gave students the opportunity to ask questions without the worry of the entire class knowing they missed a problem on their quiz. Also the groups worked together to make corrections on their quiz. Many students wrote down that this was the most helpful center.






9 Nov

If you teach then you know this buzzword: Differentiation. Oh yes, glorious differentiation. Sounds so good on paper, but also so hard to implement in the classroom. The goal of differentiation is that a teacher would have multiple ways of presenting material so that you hit as many students as possible. But the trick is to come up with these multiple ways, and implement them in a way that all students are engaged all the time. This year I made it a goal of mine to do more differentiation, especially in my regular classes. I decided the best way to do this in math was with centers.

General Set-Up

I first set up my classroom so that the desks were in groups of four. Then I created the seating chart by grouping students of similar ability levels together. I also gave each “quad” a name of a famous mathematician and made signs so the groups could remember their name. Figuring out how to set up 7 quads in my classroom was a challenge all in itself. Here’s what my room currently looks like.


I knew I wanted to come up with four centers, so two groups could be working on the same center at once. Also then I would only need to make two sets of each center. I wanted to use tubs so that I could put the materials for each center in the tub and they could easily be passed around. I also wanted to have the center names be the same so I could label the tubs and these would remain constant each time we did centers. I would just change the activity inside the tub. Here are the four centers I came up with…

  • Wicked Whiteboards

This center has four whiteboards, four markers and 1 eraser in the tub. Each time we do centers I will come up with practice problems for the students to work out on the whiteboards. (The kiddies love whiteboard work).

  • Amazing Activities

Each time the “amazing activity” will be some sort of tactile learning activity. Typically these activities would use dice or cards or some sort of game.

  • Puzzle Time

These could be logic puzzles, but I have been using Tarsia puzzles a lot. If you’ve not installed the free Tarsia puzzle maker yet you need to get on that! It’s so simple to use and free!!! Check it out here:

Tarsia Download

  • Small Group Instruction

Small group instruction is where I’ll be working with the groups on some concept they’ve been struggling with. Here is where the majority of the differentiation will come in. I can work on challenging problems with my advanced groups and do some review with my lower groups. I really like this small group setting, and I hope the kids will do well when they are in a 1-8 ratio.

Other Important Features

  • Exit Slips

Each time we do centers I’m going to have the kids fill out an exit slip. This will help me tremendously when setting up future centers. I can see what they thought was helpful, and what areas they still need more review on. I created a tray where students will turn in exit slips after the centers.

  • Schedule

Each time we do centers I write a schedule on the board and this helps students to basically run themselves. I use abbreviations for the centers and it works well.

  • Center Station

I set up a table in the front of the classroom with all the tubs for the centers so students will know where to get the tubs and where to put them when they finish.

  • Timer

This is an optional thing. Mostly I just watch the clock. Sometimes I will fudge the intervals a bit. Especially if I need more time with a lower group in the small group instruction. The main thing is that each group gets sufficient time with each center. Also you want to make sure there are about 2 – 3 minutes left at the end of class for students to fill out exit slips. If not everyone is scrambling and you don’t always get a slip from everyone.