Before I start explaining my centers I want to share a little background about my teaching situation this year. In my previous 6 years of teaching I’ve been at a large public school where there were many other math teachers to collaborate with. I also was able to talk with the teachers that taught my students the previous year. This had tremendous advantages. I also knew what the teacher did with the students in terms of curriculum or group work. This year I am the ONLY middle school math teacher in my building. I’m teaching 6th, 7th, PreAl, and Algebra. The teacher that taught math previous years was not asked to return. I feel so lost about my students! I don’t know what their previous math experience has been like, and I don’t know where their strengths and weaknesses lie. It’s definitely a learning experience for me.
Because I do feel so lost about what my students know and have done before I first wanted to see how well they worked in groups. I also want to start training my students how to do centers early, because I feel like I’m going to need to do a lot of differentiating with so many different levels of ability. Also centers take a lot of work to set up so I wanted to use one that would work in all of my classes. I decided to just do basic skills review. I thought this would be good for the students and also help me to see where there may be some gaps. Since it is the first time we’re doing centers I created three centers and we rotated about every 7-8 minutes.
For My Basic Center Set-up check out this post: https://middleschoolmathmania.wordpress.com/2012/11/09/centers/
I will tell you I got new tubs this year so my pictures might look a little different. 🙂 (The dollar section at Target can’t be beat!!)
Here’s my Introductory Centers!!
Center 1: Go Fish
I use Go Fish cards in centers a lot. You can create them in Excel and then print multiple copies (just like regular playing cards have four 2’s, your cards can have four 0.5’s). I also like to take out some aggression using the giant paper cutter in the teachers’ workroom.
This center I did Fraction/Decimal Go Fish. Students have to get a pair containing one decimal and one fraction. I used very common/basic equivalent fractions and decimals. I printed the cards on cardstock and then cut them out. I also typed up an instruction page on cardstock and put that in a page protector.
Center 2: Amazin’ Activity –
This center has a gameboard, gamepieces, dice, cards, and an answer key. I used this game for the cards. I cut off the celebrations at the bottom. I love this because it comes with an answer key. Thanks Big Ideas!! Oh yeah, did I mention it was free and I didn’t have to create it?? Awesome. http://www.bigideasmath.com/uploads/games/back_to_school_review_game_green.pdf
In the tub I put the gameboard I created on Word, some random game pieces, one die, the game cards, answer key, instructions, and a whiteboard and marker. This is for the player who’s turn it is to work out the problems.
For the word gameboard you’ll need to print both pages and then line up the blue lines, cut one so you can match them up to create one large rectangular board.
A note about the gameboard: By now you might be thinking, I don’t have time to do all this for centers!!! Well I will not lie, it does take some time to set up. However, I plan on using the gameboard and instructions for the game many times throughout the year. The only thing I’m going to change are the question cards. You can easily make question cards by cutting up a worksheet full of problems, or if you have exam view use that! The kids really do appreciate it.
Center 3 – Puzzle Time
This center I did a very simple Tarsia puzzle. (Again see my post on Centers for a free download of this awesome software!!) Students had to fill in the blank to find the correct answer and solve the puzzle. This is a great intro to solving equations as well.
Since I’m feeling generous I’m going to post all of this on Teachers Pay Teachers for free!!! As soon as this happens I’ll post the link in the comments section below.
I think the kids did a great job with their first center day. They really enjoyed the games and also asked some really great questions. I’m hoping to build their confidence in math and show them that it can be fun!
I hope you’ll try to incorporate centers into your classroom as well. It does take a lot of work, but all great things do. 🙂