As a middle school inclusion (ICT) teacher, I am constantly looking for lesson plans or activities that are creative and break things down into individual steps. I spend hours at times looking for something specific, like teaching order of operations, and wished there was one spot I could go to where I could find fun activities more quickly, which is what led me to write this blog.
Let's start with some math activities!
1. Hands-on Order of Operations activity
Teaching order of operations to my 6th graders this past school year proved to be difficult, but with this activity, they were able to grasp the concept more clearly. Grouping of 2-4 students works best for this activity.
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2. Multiplication tables
This past school year, I discovered that many of my 6th grade students either never learned how to multiply or couldn't memorize their facts. I tried so many different strategies before finding this resource, and most finally understood how to multiply.
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3. Long Division Cheat Sheet
Division is tedious and requires so many steps. This cheat sheet gives students a visual with an example that they can use like a checklist and will make learning this skill a bit easier.
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4. Solving 2-step equations
Graphic organizers come in all shapes and sizes, who would have thought that paint samples could be used to visualize solving 2 step equations!
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5. Create Your Own Ratios
There are so many ways to teach ratios, but this one encourages students to bring in personal items, which is definitely more engaging than most strategies. This is also great because it breaks everything down step by step and gives kids a colorful way to look at ratios and helps them tell their story too.
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6. Teaching Percents
Prior to this past school year, I had never seen percents taught using bar models and honestly, I struggled with understanding it in order to teach it at first. I wish I had found this resource at the time because I'm sure I would have been more clear otherwise. You can also print these out and make them into task cards.
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7. Rates and Ratios
Need step-by-step ways to teach rates and ratios without creating all the handouts? Then look no further!! Here you'll find everything you need for station or small group instruction. This would even be a great review for higher-level students.
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Now for some ELA!
8. Reading Responses
Middle School kids need a variety of ways to respond to literature. This reading activity offers multiple ways that will engage all types of learners. I'm loving the movie reel sequencing activity and many of my students are visual learners that love to tell a story through drawing. It could also be a great way to help track characters.
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9. Writing Poetry
Poetry is a genre that intimidates many people, especially when asked to write it. Every year at my school, one of the 7th grade ELA teachers hosts a poetry slam event. In order to help my students prepare for the event in the upcoming year, I plan on using these 4 steps!
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10. Text Structure Instruction
Teaching text structure isn't fun, but it is necessary and needed for all grades. Here you'll find a flipbook to use as a graphic organizer.
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New to storyboards? Then look no further! This walks you through step by step and gives you a template as well. While I haven't used this specific source myself, I will be.
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12. Creative Vocabulary Strategies
Ever play Three Truths and a Lie? How about in order to help teach vocabulary? Me neither, but now I will be. It will be a great practice for students, along with the other methods offered here.
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13. Finding the main idea in non-fiction
Non-fiction text is challenging and often difficult to determine the main idea of. By learning a simple pattern to look for and then practicing it with multiple passages, students will be more successful in determining the main idea.
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14. Thesis writing
Essay writing can be hard and figuring out where to start can be even harder. Have students go on an essay scavenger hunt and help them see what goes into writing an effective thesis. An effective thesis statement helps students tell their stories more effectively.
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And the "other stuff"
15. Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches
Years ago, I worked with an 8th grade science teacher who had students work in groups to write how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. He then took those and followed them in front of the class to see what they would look like. He was teaching them the importance of writing their procedures clearly and it really stuck with the class.
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16. Social problem solving
Everyone needs to learn problem-solving skills to use in social environments, especially middle school students. This activity helped promote student awareness and made a few realize that they need to think about consequences and helped reel in my more "adventurous students".
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17. Easy Origami Birds
Origami can be used for a variety of reasons in any classroom. A few years ago, a co-teacher I worked with had students write their 8th grade goals down and then fold them into birds, which were hung in the classroom and reexamined at the end of the year. The class thoroughly enjoyed reflecting on their accomplishments at the end of the year.
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Timelines are a great way to show a sequence of events and can be used in a variety of situations. When I was in college, one professor had us create a reading timeline and it helped me reflect on my journey as a reader. They offer students a way to tell a story in a different way, other than an essay or journal entry.
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19. Escape the Room
Escape rooms are all the rage and these digital versions won't disappoint! It's a great way to enhance student learning and get real-time student data.
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Another thing that everyone is getting into, is coding. It is also an extremely valuable skill to have in today's society. This is a great place to start. I love that these activities for students are tech-free so they can understand what is behind the code itself, and is a great practice for students to utilize.
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