Top 10 Surprising Classroom Materials That can Help Your Students With Math
By Kathleen Cantor, 31 Jul 2021
Unfortunately, a common myth that many students enter the classroom with is that you're either a math person or you're not. As math teachers, we strive to change that belief so that our students can be confident in their ability to solve problems and learn mathematical concepts.
These top 10 surprising classroom materials will help your students engage meaningfully with lessons in your classroom and find greater success in their learning.
Materials for a Classroom Environment
1. Growth Mindset Posters
That myth mentioned above? It is one of the greatest barriers to student success in school. The idea that you're either good at something or you're not is called a fixed mindset. Teaching students to have a growth mindset instead is vital to their confidence and will produce results as long as it is sustained.
Pair this visual with some great growth mindset lessons at the beginning of the year to encourage your students to always put forth their best effort. Changing student mindsets is no easy task, and does not happen overnight. These concepts should be revisited throughout the year and supported so that students can grow in their confidence.
2. Student Punch Card
A well-behaved class is a class that is present for learning. And a classroom without disruptions is an environment more conducive to learning than its rowdier counterparts. Using incentives can provide students extrinsic motivation to demonstrate prosocial behaviors, leading to more engaged students.
These punch cards can reinforce positive behaviors and allow students and teachers to decide on what reward each student will receive. An added bonus of students earning rewards, aside from the good behavior it takes to get there, is that reward times tend to be a great opportunity for students to build relationships with their peers and their teachers.
3. Sensory Tools
A major obstacle to learning is the inability to focus. With the challenges posed by increased screen time and ever-growing attention challenges in students, classrooms need to have tools available for students. This fidget box provides a variety of sensory tools that students can use while also paying attention to the lesson.
The tools in this kit are quiet, easily washable, and have various textures and functions, providing the classroom materials you will need to meet the diverse needs of students. If you are worried that they will be a distraction, fear not! With explicit instruction regarding purpose and expectations for use in your classroom, these tools can help your students focus on the math that you are teaching.
Upgrades of Typical Classroom Materials
4. Class Starters
Upgrade your activators at the beginning of class by including this fun twist on a classic game—two truths and a lie. Students use middle school math skills to solve daily challenges and identify which math statement out of three is untrue.
These activities can help you mix up your starter activities, and allow your students to apply critical thinking skills to their review. These pages also include sample discussions around each of the activities to gain even greater insight into your students' thinking and progress toward standards.
5. Reference Folders
While regular two-pocket folders may be on the list of classroom materials for the school year, these reference folders take math learning to the next level. From front to back, these folders are filled with concept reminders and tools, such as a multiplication chart, geometry basics, fraction equivalents, and much more. These folders also have four pockets, enhancing the ability of your students to organize their work.
Make Your Class Fun and Unique
6. Book of Math Jokes
Using humor is a valuable tool in developing rapport with students and even de-escalating students who are struggling. Consider it an added benefit if the jokes you use can be tied directly to your content area! Enter this book of over 500 clean and appropriate jokes for middle and high school math classrooms, perfectly cheesy for maximum groans.
Not only can you use these jokes as ice breakers and to build community among your students, but students may also be able to use some of the jokes as a memorization tool of important concepts.
7. Coordinate Grid Stamp
Save your students the stress of repeatedly drawing coordinate grids while they practice their skills with this stamp. Students will have fun pressing this stamp onto graph paper and making perfect grids each time, with unit markers and all. The graphs are pressed onto the paper in ink, which dries quickly. The ink remains on the paper, even if students need to erase and remake their graphs. The stamp is long-lasting and refillable.
8. Playing Cards
The internet has a wealth of math learning games that you can play using only a standard deck of cards. Students will enjoy playing these games with their peers and will reinforce their math skills without even realizing it. Making a standard deck of playing cards a no-brainer addition to your classroom materials.
You can do the leg work of finding games that fit your needs or send students on a web quest to pick out games they may enjoy as a fun activity.
Classroom Materials Also Meant for At-Home Learning
9. Algebraic Balance Scale
This instructional system meets learners' visual and kinesthetic needs, allowing students to model algebraic concepts using game pieces on a scale worksheet. This kit includes a workbook with sample problems and instructions, as well as three levels of difficulty. This lets students work at their own level on concepts they may need to review from previous grades, or explore topics on grade level. The pieces can also be used separately to model algebraic equations and expressions, and pair well with these algebraic equation lessons.
10. Visual Measuring Cups
A math lesson becomes truly valuable when students can translate their learning to the real world and understand its application. Using measuring cups is an easy way to explore concepts of fractions, decimals, and unit conversion. These measuring cups are even more helpful, as they are shaped as the fraction they represent, helping students make connections between mathematical concepts and real-world quantities. Bonus points if you get to use them to make a yummy recipe!
Classroom materials for math don't have to be your run-of-the-mill rulers, calculators, and #2 pencils. Be creative! Anything that can help your students learn safely and effectively is viable. And the products on this list are sure to be a big win.
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