## Tuesday, August 11, 2015

### Back to Basics- First Week of Middle School

When I started teaching middle school and had 7 to 8 classes a day, I learned very quickly that academics start right away. Our pacing calendars didn't give a lot of leeway for community building and expectations. Everything just felt like it moved so quickly.

I wanted to teach routines though and figured I would do with content. I also wanted to get students back into mathematical thinking immediately. I was very curious what they remembered from the previous school year. My first year I gave a test. B-O-R-I-N-G! I regretted it right away.

Solution: Create stations for my students with content they learned previously and need to just be reminded that they know.  I love math stations, even with middle school kids. I have done them in a rotation format and also using Daily 3 this past year. You can read about that here. This also gave me an opportunity to allow students to work together in a stress free environment from the very beginning.

Enter:  Back to School Basics

To use with your new 6th graders

I was shocked that this concept seemed like a second language to my sixth graders.
Two options to use, with our without QR codes.
Another skill I felt really helped my students was to discuss divisibility rules.
This is a fun game I used along with a flippable and another center game
This game is available separately

Lastly, adding and subtracting fractions with unlike denominators was moved to 5th grade in Texas last year, so I really needed my new students to practice these skills.
To use with your new 7th graders

Sixth graders have spent a lot of the year working on fractions, decimals and percents. This is a great review using word problems.

Most middle school teachers will tell you that ALL grade levels need practice with integer operations! I love this activity with a secret message because it is self checking!
Another new concept for our sixth graders in Texas was one step equations.
This is a great matching activity to refresh your students.

To use with your new 8th graders

Another integer practice, yep, ALL students need refreshers with this concept.
This is a fun scavenger hunt activity.
Students solve the equation on the bottom and search for the answer on the top of one of the other cards. Another self checking activity.

Practicing two step equations now.
At first glance, you may be wondering why I choose this next skill for new 8th graders.
Well, I had some pretty in depth conversations with my 8th grade teachers and this was a major pet peeve of theirs. They struggled with the fact that eighth graders couldn't plot points on a coordinate grid. Of course, slope is HUGE in 8th grade, so therefore, lets plot some points!

And of course, I know that many middle school teachers teach all grade levels.
At my school our resource teachers taught all three grades and our math labs (remedial math) could include all grade levels.
So, here's a great way to save:

Another reason to bundle? At the end of the 6th grade, wouldn't the 7th grade Back to Basics be great review? And the 8th grade great for the end of 7th grade? There a lots of options.
I hope you can find them useful.

I know your students will enjoy NOT taking a 'back to school test" to show you what they do or do not remember. Take the pressure off by making it fun, interactive and teaching those expectations from the very beginning. Build your classroom communities by having students work cooperatively in small groups.

It's a win-win!

#### 1 comment:

1. This is a very good researched article and I enjoyed reading it. Thanks.
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