Are you one of the lucky ones? You know, the ones who get to teach math AND language arts…or math AND language arts AND science? Or are you one of the poor, unfortunate souls who only gets to teach one subject area? :-)

I’ve had the opportunity to do both. As an elementary teacher for 12 years, I taught all subjects – math, LA (reading, grammar, spelling), science, social studies. When I moved to middle school, the subject load was reduced a bit. The first year, I taught science and LA (reading, grammar, spelling - which was 2 periods). The second year, our 6th grade went to teams of 2, and math was added to everyone’s subject load. I didn’t mind the addition of math, because I really like teaching math. BUT, planning for all those subjects made me feel like I was an elementary teacher again…..except the content was more difficult, the class periods were shorter, and the grading took longer. It was pretty overwhelming. Planning labs, literature circles, discovery math lessons…..it was a lot. This lasted for only a year, and then we went back to teams of 3 (most of us, anyway), and I went back to science and LA for 2 or 3 more years. Then the math teacher on our team retired, and I got to switch from science to math (plus LA). After several more years, our teams grew to 4 and then 5 teachers, and I was responsible for teaching just math.

I’ve had the opportunity to do both. As an elementary teacher for 12 years, I taught all subjects – math, LA (reading, grammar, spelling), science, social studies. When I moved to middle school, the subject load was reduced a bit. The first year, I taught science and LA (reading, grammar, spelling - which was 2 periods). The second year, our 6th grade went to teams of 2, and math was added to everyone’s subject load. I didn’t mind the addition of math, because I really like teaching math. BUT, planning for all those subjects made me feel like I was an elementary teacher again…..except the content was more difficult, the class periods were shorter, and the grading took longer. It was pretty overwhelming. Planning labs, literature circles, discovery math lessons…..it was a lot. This lasted for only a year, and then we went back to teams of 3 (most of us, anyway), and I went back to science and LA for 2 or 3 more years. Then the math teacher on our team retired, and I got to switch from science to math (plus LA). After several more years, our teams grew to 4 and then 5 teachers, and I was responsible for teaching just math.

I guess it depends on how you look at it. Is it more work? For sure! But I have to say that when I taught both math and science, I was better able to incorporate concepts from each subject into the other…it gave me a better understanding of what was being taught in the other subject. And at some times, I was able to plan for both subjects together. When topics overlap, the planning is a little easier. But even when they don’t, knowing what happened in one class helped me teach the other: when we solved equations in science, it reinforced our math learning. When we got to metric conversions in math, students remembered it from science (and I was able to say, "Remember when we did this in science class?")

Now, language arts didn’t tie in as well with math and science; (I loved when I taught LA and SS in elementary school – we read so much historical fiction!) However, adding writing components to math and science lessons and assignments did allow the opportunity to reinforce writing in the content areas.

I definitely liked teaching just math – being able to devote all my planning time to one subject allowed me to create more activities for that subject, dive deeper into my planning, and become more of an expert – my planning time no longer had to be split 3 or 4 ways. I was also better able to plan for differentiation when needed (math students weren't always grouped by ability, so I often had a wide range of needs in my classes).

However, I’m grateful that I did have to teach multiple subjects. When I was teaching equations, I knew they’d be seeing them in science, and I could talk about that. When we did metric conversions, I knew they had already done them in science, so I could reference that. When it came time for 9th period every day (when students could get started with homework), I could answer the students’ science and language arts questions, instead of sending them to the respective teacher, because I had that background.

I've got five planning/grading tips for you:

1) Analyze your content at the beginning of the year and identify topics that overlap. Create one lesson/unit plan that can be used for both - even if they occur at different times of the year.

2) If you are teaching language arts, identify books you can read in class that address concepts in another subject area. This could be tough for math and science, but think about biographies of mathematicians and scientists. Picture books can also be a great resource!

3) Find/create some assignments that can be used in more than one class at the same time and then grade them for both content areas.

4) Try to plan so that your tests and projects aren't on the same day, so you don't end up with an enormous amount of grading all at the same time!

5) Think about grading only part of an assignment, or have students self-correct - this can be very beneficial to students!

1) Use a section of your board to post a due dates for each class.

2) When making your seating charts - if you have homeroom students in your classes or students in more than one of your classes, keep their seats the same and seat the other students in the empty seats....creating the seating chart goes a little faster.

3) Set up crates or files that can hold materials by class. When I taught several subjects, I kept trays on my counters, labeled by subject for students to hand in and pick up assignments.

4) Use color coding to keep student work separated by class or course.

5) Color code your plan book - partly because it's a great visual and partly because it's fun:-)

Teaching multiple subjects can be challenging, but it definitely has its benefits! What is your favorite part?

Do your middle school math students struggle with problem solving? Do they get to the end of the word problem and then guess at the operation they need to choose (maybe not realizing that there are multiple operations)? You probably see this with some of your students, while other students do very well with problem solving. What methods have you found to help those who struggle? What methods can you use to help each student at his or her current level?

I’ve used many strategies over the years, to help students sort out how to make sense of word problems and how to approach them. These methods didn't have a specific name at the time (like close reading or talking to the text), but some would fit into these categories.

I’ve used many strategies over the years, to help students sort out how to make sense of word problems and how to approach them. These methods didn't have a specific name at the time (like close reading or talking to the text), but some would fit into these categories.

One of the methods I found to be most helpful for my students was having them write responses to specific prompts before they attempted to solve a word problem. The prompts are general and applicable to any problem:

We started using this framework many years ago, when writing in math/open-ended questions was new on the standardized test scene (new in my state any way:-). Every couple of days, we did sample problems that incorporated various strategies to solve problems – make a simpler problem, make a table, make an organized list, write an equation, etc. And as we practiced, the students became excellent at communicating what they understood about the information provided in the problem, as well as what they needed to figure out and**how** they did so.

For the “what I know…because” part, students identify the information from the problem that’s important for solving. We'd typically underline or highlight important information and cross out extra information. Instead of just highlighting/underlining, students also wrote the information, putting it into their own words as much as possible. Writing the information helps solidify it in their minds, and if they reword it or add detail to clarify the meaning, they understand it a bit better.

For "what I need to know," students highlight/underline what the question is asking and then wrote it in their own words.

For example, with a problem like this one:

*Steve runs every other day and trains with weights every 3rd day. If he does both on Monday, how many times will he do both on the same day during the next 2 weeks?*

- “What I know...because,” from the problem
- “What I know...because,” from background information and
- “What I need to know....,” or what the problem is asking

We started using this framework many years ago, when writing in math/open-ended questions was new on the standardized test scene (new in my state any way:-). Every couple of days, we did sample problems that incorporated various strategies to solve problems – make a simpler problem, make a table, make an organized list, write an equation, etc. And as we practiced, the students became excellent at communicating what they understood about the information provided in the problem, as well as what they needed to figure out and

For the “what I know…because” part, students identify the information from the problem that’s important for solving. We'd typically underline or highlight important information and cross out extra information. Instead of just highlighting/underlining, students also wrote the information, putting it into their own words as much as possible. Writing the information helps solidify it in their minds, and if they reword it or add detail to clarify the meaning, they understand it a bit better.

For "what I need to know," students highlight/underline what the question is asking and then wrote it in their own words.

For example, with a problem like this one:

Students might write:

**What I know:**

**What I need to know:**

*I need to figure out how many times will Steve run and use weights on the same day, during the next 14 days - I know that 2 weeks is the same as 14 days. *

After students completed these written parts, we’d discuss what they identified as what they knew and what they needed to know, before getting started with the solving. Then students would solve on their own and write a paragraph to explain exactly what they did to solve the problem.

**Solution Explanation Example:**

*To solve this problem, I decided to make a table to find how many days Steve will do both activities. Since I want to know how many times this happened in 2 weeks, I made the table 2 rows of 7, and I labeled the days of the week at the top of the table, starting with Monday. In the first square of the table, I wrote an R and a W, since Steve did both on Monday. Then I wrote an R in every other square, and I wrote a W in every 3rd square. When I was finished, I counted how many squares had both R and W in them. There were 3 days total (including the Monday he started), so the answer is: Steve will do both activities on the same day 3 different times in 2 weeks.*

Once students finished solving and writing their paragraphs, several of them would read their paragraphs to the class, giving students the opportunity to see if they could follow their peers' explanations, compare the explanations to their own to see how similar they were, and learn/consider a new method if a student had solved a different way.

While this process did take a while, it was SO worth it. It really helped students break down the problems, become more in tune with how they were solving, and resulted in less "random" use of operations/solving methods. It also greatly improved their math communication abilities.

These days, with shorter math classes:-(, and therefore less time to write, I’ve consolidated the "what I know" and "what I need to know" into ‘Find out,’ so it encompasses both the important info the question that needs to be answered. Where I used to have several students read their examples with the class, I now have students do a quick "pair-share" after the first stages, and then share a couple of the final explanations with the entire class. It still takes a good chunk of time, but I believe that time is made up with fewer struggles as we move through the year.

A few tips to help students as they read the problem:

*Runs every 2 days. I know this because every other day means the same things as every 2 days.**Weights every 3rd day - the problem states this information.**Runs and uses weights on Monday - the problem states that he does both activities on Monday.*

After students completed these written parts, we’d discuss what they identified as what they knew and what they needed to know, before getting started with the solving. Then students would solve on their own and write a paragraph to explain exactly what they did to solve the problem.

Once students finished solving and writing their paragraphs, several of them would read their paragraphs to the class, giving students the opportunity to see if they could follow their peers' explanations, compare the explanations to their own to see how similar they were, and learn/consider a new method if a student had solved a different way.

While this process did take a while, it was SO worth it. It really helped students break down the problems, become more in tune with how they were solving, and resulted in less "random" use of operations/solving methods. It also greatly improved their math communication abilities.

These days, with shorter math classes:-(, and therefore less time to write, I’ve consolidated the "what I know" and "what I need to know" into ‘Find out,’ so it encompasses both the important info the question that needs to be answered. Where I used to have several students read their examples with the class, I now have students do a quick "pair-share" after the first stages, and then share a couple of the final explanations with the entire class. It still takes a good chunk of time, but I believe that time is made up with fewer struggles as we move through the year.

A few tips to help students as they read the problem:

- Underline important information
- Cross out information that isn't needed
- Read carefully to find numbers written as words and write the # above the word
- Underline or highlight words that indicate operations and add the operation symbol nearby
- When writing, write the information with fewer words, so key info doesn’t get "lost"

Here's another example, in case you want to keep reading!

3 different trains

(change words into numbers – sub words with symbols – x instead of times)

Train 3 = 10 min longer than train 1 + train 2

This gives me the equation

I have to figure out the other 2 trains based on train 2 = 9.

If

9 + 18 + 37 = 64, which is the total number of minutes Manny spend on the trains.

Have you been here?

You’ve only got a week or so before the winter break begins….and schedule changes mean you’ll miss a couple classes during that time. You’ve finished the current topic, and there’s not enough time to fit in another unit. You know that*sometimes* kids have trouble staying on-task at this time of year, as they are looking forward to break!

But you don’t want to waste class time ....

So what do you work on? What are some fun, but academic things you can do during math class to help the students keep practicing and learning? I've got a few quick ideas for you:

You’ve only got a week or so before the winter break begins….and schedule changes mean you’ll miss a couple classes during that time. You’ve finished the current topic, and there’s not enough time to fit in another unit. You know that

But you don’t want to waste class time ....

So what do you work on? What are some fun, but academic things you can do during math class to help the students keep practicing and learning? I've got a few quick ideas for you:

1) Try this free winter word creation activity, which combines math and language arts. Students find other words within "Winter Holidays" and then find the value of each word, using the assigned letter values. Just click the image to download.

2) Logic puzzles are always fun - this one is a new winter-themed logic puzzle. Students need to figure out people's favorite winter activity and food/drink.

2) Logic puzzles are always fun - this one is a new winter-themed logic puzzle. Students need to figure out people's favorite winter activity and food/drink.

3) Find the price of all the items in the 12 Days of Christmas!

https://www.pnc.com/en/about-pnc/topics/pnc-christmas-price-index.html

4) Holiday or winter-themed color by numbers.

The CBN pictured here focuses on division, but I have several color by number activities in my store that have a holiday/winter/new year theme, some focusing on specific topics and some that are mixed review.

5) Footloose with mixed review. This one is intended for grades 4-6 and includes:

* problem solving

* two-digit multiplication

* decimal multiplication and division

* division with single and two-digit divisors

* addition and subtraction of large numbers and money

* one elapsed time question

* conversion of fraction to time question

* one comparing fractions question

Enjoy your holiday season!

The math homework dilemma – to give or not to give (IF you have the option in your district)? How much to give? To go over it all or only review some of it? What will be most helpful to your students?

Maybe your experiences have been similar to mine: I’ve adjusted my practices from year to year, sometimes spending a lot of time reviewing homework, but other times spending little; some years giving homework related to the lesson, other years giving homework that was basic skills practice; some years lots of problems, other years just a few. There seemed to be pros and cons to each.

Thinking about this topic yet again, I decided to look for some research to see how we can help students get the most out of the homework we assign.

Maybe your experiences have been similar to mine: I’ve adjusted my practices from year to year, sometimes spending a lot of time reviewing homework, but other times spending little; some years giving homework related to the lesson, other years giving homework that was basic skills practice; some years lots of problems, other years just a few. There seemed to be pros and cons to each.

Thinking about this topic yet again, I decided to look for some research to see how we can help students get the most out of the homework we assign.

Research is varied, and opinions about homework are varied; there are books and articles supporting homework, and there are books and articles opposing. For example, research cited in the NCTM article *Making Homework Matter to Students (NCTM, 2017)*, states that there IS a positive correlation between high-quality homework and mathematics achievement (Trautwein 2007 and Dettmers et al. 2010), and that students who completed their homework scored better on assessments. But the studies also showed no relationship between time spent on homework and student achievement. On the other hand, The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) in 2015 announced that homework perpetuates inequities in education and questioned whether it has any academic value. In __Mathematical Mindsets__, Jo Boaler states that reviewing homework at the beginning of class magnifies those inequities among students. Various other studies have found that homework has a negative effect or no effect on achievement at all.

So, research doesn't necessarily agree on the benefits of having students complete math homework – that’s not all that helpful:-) Especially if your district expects (or requires) you to assign homework.

Research does seem to agree, however, that certain*types* of math homework can provide more benefit to students than others. This is what we're looking for! As stated by Jo Boaler, in __Mathematical Mindsets__, “Research shows that the only time homework is effective is when students are given a worthwhile learning experience, not worksheets of practice problems, and when homework is seen not as a norm but as an occasional opportunity to offer a meaningful task.”

She recommends giving questions that students need to answer in a performance orientation or assigning reflection questions that encourage students to reflect on the math in the day’s lesson and focus on the big ideas, like how the ideas from the lesson could be used in life.

So, research doesn't necessarily agree on the benefits of having students complete math homework – that’s not all that helpful:-) Especially if your district expects (or requires) you to assign homework.

Research does seem to agree, however, that certain

She recommends giving questions that students need to answer in a performance orientation or assigning reflection questions that encourage students to reflect on the math in the day’s lesson and focus on the big ideas, like how the ideas from the lesson could be used in life.

So, let's think about what would help our students get the most out of the math homework we assign.

**1) Assign homework that has a very specific purpose**

That sounds logical, but have you ever been in a hurry and assigned #1-20 on page 47, without really looking at**all** the problems first? I will admit that I’ve been guilty of that. With an assignment like that, students may sense that the purpose was simply to assign homework.

If we’re working on decimal subtraction, it might be better for me to assign 4 problems that require students to remember to annex a zero in the minued or to regroup when there are zeros (since those are the types of problem they often have trouble with) and assign 1 problem that doesn’t require those things. Or, if I want students to think a little more deeply, I might assign 5 error analysis problems and ask them to explain the mistakes in writing. According to the NCTM article, homework assignments like error analysis require deeper thinking and understanding, which is what will benefit our students the most.

**2) Make homework accessible by differentiating**

If students are unable to complete the math homework because it's too difficult (or they believe it's too difficult), there isn't much chance that they'll get any good math practice out of it. And this goes back to the inequities mentioned earlier - if they couldn't do it, what happens to them during the review of the homework? They are likely lost and/or tuning out.

The same applies for the students who find the work too easy - if it's simple for them, they aren't getting good practice or deep thinking. And homework review? They probably find it boring. There are so many ways to differentiate - a great topic for another post:-)

**3) Make homework aesthetically pleasing**

According to ASCD, 2010, if the homework looks uncluttered and is graphically appealing, students may be more interested in completing it. I honestly hadn't thought about this much in the past! But think about your response when you look at a page completely filled with text or too many graphics - how does it make you feel?

**4) Give students the opportunity to discuss their answers**

I have found**great** benefit to giving students time to discuss in small groups. I do this as frequently as possible. It gives me time to circulate and listen to their conversations and questions. And often, students are willing to ask a group member about something that gave them trouble, rather than asking in front of the class. This provides them the opportunity to verbalize their confusion and allow peers to verbalize their understanding of the concepts. This discussion doesn't have to take a lot of time - especially if the homework assignment was only a few problems:-)

**5) Assign h****omework that's efficient**

According to*Five Hallmarks of Good Homework*, ASCD, 2010, this means it probably shouldn’t include cutting things out, gluing them, or creating posters, for example. While I like using "foldables," I'd agree that assigning them for homework may not be the best choice. Where is the math practice in this type of homework?

Based on this information, my action item is to work on creating differentiated math homework assignments that focus on a specific purpose, require deeper thinking, and are graphically appealing.

Do you have any tips to help students get the most of out their math homework?

]]>That sounds logical, but have you ever been in a hurry and assigned #1-20 on page 47, without really looking at

If we’re working on decimal subtraction, it might be better for me to assign 4 problems that require students to remember to annex a zero in the minued or to regroup when there are zeros (since those are the types of problem they often have trouble with) and assign 1 problem that doesn’t require those things. Or, if I want students to think a little more deeply, I might assign 5 error analysis problems and ask them to explain the mistakes in writing. According to the NCTM article, homework assignments like error analysis require deeper thinking and understanding, which is what will benefit our students the most.

If students are unable to complete the math homework because it's too difficult (or they believe it's too difficult), there isn't much chance that they'll get any good math practice out of it. And this goes back to the inequities mentioned earlier - if they couldn't do it, what happens to them during the review of the homework? They are likely lost and/or tuning out.

The same applies for the students who find the work too easy - if it's simple for them, they aren't getting good practice or deep thinking. And homework review? They probably find it boring. There are so many ways to differentiate - a great topic for another post:-)

According to ASCD, 2010, if the homework looks uncluttered and is graphically appealing, students may be more interested in completing it. I honestly hadn't thought about this much in the past! But think about your response when you look at a page completely filled with text or too many graphics - how does it make you feel?

I have found

According to

Based on this information, my action item is to work on creating differentiated math homework assignments that focus on a specific purpose, require deeper thinking, and are graphically appealing.

Do you have any tips to help students get the most of out their math homework?

How often have you gone to a conference and been super-impressed by what a speaker shared? Has it happened often? It happened to me when I went to a conference as a very new teacher (in my second year, I believe), more than 20 years ago. At that conference, I was lucky enough hear Dr. Lola May speak. She was a great presenter, and certainly made an impression on me. I still have the book that was given at that conference and have referred to it many times over the years. It was at this conference that I first learned how to use "casting out nines" to check the answers to multiplication and division problems. I had never heard of this method when I was a student, but being a new teacher, I kind of assumed it was a method well-known to other teachers..... |

until I talked about it during a meeting at which our Curriculum and Instruction director was present. He overheard me explaining it to another teacher; he had never heard of it, was quite surprised and interested in how it worked, and asked me to show him a few more examples.

Over the years, I have taught the method to many classes, and I don't think any students have ever told me that they had already learned it. So, I suppose it isn't as well-known as I had thought (at least not around here...)

The kids really like it because it's a "trick" to check their work (I never taught them*why* it worked - I think that might have been too much for this age). I think it's especially handy for multiplication. Here are the steps of *casting out nines* to check multiplication (you can follow the example on the wheel):

Over the years, I have taught the method to many classes, and I don't think any students have ever told me that they had already learned it. So, I suppose it isn't as well-known as I had thought (at least not around here...)

The kids really like it because it's a "trick" to check their work (I never taught them

1. Going across the rows of the multiplication problem, "cast out" (just cross them out) any 9s or combinations of numbers that add up to 9.

2. Add the remaining digits across each row, until the result is a single digit.

3. Multiply the single digits, and if the result is a 2-digit number, add the digits to get a single digit.

4. Follow the same steps in the product, until you arrive at a single-digit number.

5. If the results match, the answer to the problem is most likely correct (not 100% certain, but most likely); if the results do not match, the product is not correct.

Casting out nines can also be used with the other operations as well, but using it to check multiplication is my favorite.

Have you used casting out nines?

]]>2. Add the remaining digits across each row, until the result is a single digit.

3. Multiply the single digits, and if the result is a 2-digit number, add the digits to get a single digit.

4. Follow the same steps in the product, until you arrive at a single-digit number.

5. If the results match, the answer to the problem is most likely correct (not 100% certain, but most likely); if the results do not match, the product is not correct.

Casting out nines can also be used with the other operations as well, but using it to check multiplication is my favorite.

Have you used casting out nines?

Middle school students still like those fun seasonal activities! Many years ago (I have no idea how many) I used this pattern coloring activity with my middle-schoolers. I don't remember where the idea came from, and I had even forgotten that I ever used it! However, I was looking through an old "November" file to find some ideas for a fun activity for a sub day, and found the tracers and examples in my file.

Once I found it, I DID remember that the kids used to really enjoy this activity. They had fun creating the patterns and deciding what colors to include. So, I gathered materials (graph paper, tracers, colored pencils, thin black markers, construction paper) and left them for the sub, with these directions:

Once I found it, I DID remember that the kids used to really enjoy this activity. They had fun creating the patterns and deciding what colors to include. So, I gathered materials (graph paper, tracers, colored pencils, thin black markers, construction paper) and left them for the sub, with these directions:

1. Students take one piece of graph paper (I use the tiny squares, but younger students could use larger ones).

2. Place the tracer under the graph paper and trace the outline and details of the shape.

3. Color the squares with different shades, alternating light and dark (colored pencils work better than markers).

4. When finished, outline in black, and go over detail lines in a darker color.

5. Cut out and glue onto construction paper.

2. Place the tracer under the graph paper and trace the outline and details of the shape.

3. Color the squares with different shades, alternating light and dark (colored pencils work better than markers).

4. When finished, outline in black, and go over detail lines in a darker color.

5. Cut out and glue onto construction paper.

This is a great way to create attractive pictures any time. I was just so excited to find it again that I thought I'd share:) You can click on the pumpkin or turkey pictures below to download the tracers.

For a more academic activity, I also included the cross number puzzle (pictured above) and a math color by number and Footloose math game. These are both mixed practice and great to use for review any time. You can find these in my TPT store if you click the main image above. Happy coloring!

]]>Having the perfectly-run math class....that's been my goal, year after year. Somehow, in middle school, it has consistently tried to evade me!

In other posts, I've shared that I taught elementary math for years, and always had an hour for math class. That hour gave me the time I wanted to have good warm-ups every day (sometimes taking up half the class with one particular problem that led to additional discussion/extension!); the hour gave me the time to go over homework the way I wanted to. And it still gave me time for a new lesson and practice.

But when I got started teaching math at the middle school, with "44"-minute periods, that was all over. (They aren't really 44 minutes - the students get no time between classes for switching, so switching time comes out of the 44.)

In other posts, I've shared that I taught elementary math for years, and always had an hour for math class. That hour gave me the time I wanted to have good warm-ups every day (sometimes taking up half the class with one particular problem that led to additional discussion/extension!); the hour gave me the time to go over homework the way I wanted to. And it still gave me time for a new lesson and practice.

But when I got started teaching math at the middle school, with "44"-minute periods, that was all over. (They aren't really 44 minutes - the students get no time between classes for switching, so switching time comes out of the 44.)

I tried to use the same kind of warm-up I used in elementary school (a word problem to practice a particular problem solving strategy, including a written explanation). Sometimes these took 20-30 minutes. So, that left only 10 -20 minutes to review homework, teach a new lesson, and practice.....but that didn't work well. So I cut these warm-ups down to once a week and let them take the whole class period. But I felt like warm-ups once a week wasn't enough.

Then I bought a warm-up book (because I really wanted warm-ups each day - it's the best way for me to start my classes). These were shorter (though not always as challenging as I wanted), but so short that some students who got to class first finished before others even arrived (and some of the problems were just too simple). Others just took longer to get done.....so those who were done needed something to do while they waited for the others to finish. Eventually I wrote all of my own warm-ups, so I was very happy with**what** we were covering, but still not happy with the **how**. (One step in the right direction!)

My next issue was reviewing homework. I wanted to go over all (or most) of the problems. I wanted to be sure that I answered all the questions anyone had (and discussed certain problems even if no one asked the questions). So homework often took a long time to go over.

I struggled with the best balance of warm-ups, homework review, lesson, and practice for a couple of years, I have to admit. And no one that I taught with seemed to have the same issues as me. Part of that was because they weren't using warm-ups like I was, so they weren't losing that chunk of time at the beginning of class. But I knew the warm-ups and our discussions were beneficial to the students in the long term.

Here's what I've finally landed on that allows us to use our math classes as efficiently and effectively as possible:

**1) Warm-ups are homework.** My warm-ups are only 2-3 questions per day, so is isn't a long assignment. Even when it's added on to other homework, it doesn't take that much extra time. There are times when students don't have the knowledge to answer a warm-up question (because we may not have learned the concept yet), but they have to at least give it an attempt.

**2) Warm-ups are discussed in groups for the first 5-7 minutes of class. **Students get to class and immediately take out the warm-ups and review the answers with their group members (my students sit in groups of 4-6). This allows for math discussion (love it!); students help each other if someone didn't understand a certain problem. I circulate during this time to listen in, check answers, and help any groups that need help.

**3) When the warm-up discussion is done, students self-check homework** (another 5-7 minutes, depending on # of homework problems). I put all the answers on the board before they come to class, so that as soon as they finish the warm-up discussion, students can start checking their homework. This again gives me time to circulate, check for homework completion and help students that have questions. I normally pick out one or two of the more challenging problems to discuss as a class.

**4) Students prepare for the day's lesson**. For those who get done with the warm-up and homework checking before others, I'll have a question on the board or an activity to begin that pertains to the new lesson for the day. I make it something that isn't necessary to the lesson so that those who took longer with the warm-up and homework won't miss something necessary to the lesson.

**5) New lesson and practice**. Now that warm-ups and homework are down to about 10-15 minutes per period, we have 25-30 minutes for the new lesson and the practice:-)

Do you have 40(ish)-minute math periods? What does your class structure look like?

]]>Then I bought a warm-up book (because I really wanted warm-ups each day - it's the best way for me to start my classes). These were shorter (though not always as challenging as I wanted), but so short that some students who got to class first finished before others even arrived (and some of the problems were just too simple). Others just took longer to get done.....so those who were done needed something to do while they waited for the others to finish. Eventually I wrote all of my own warm-ups, so I was very happy with

My next issue was reviewing homework. I wanted to go over all (or most) of the problems. I wanted to be sure that I answered all the questions anyone had (and discussed certain problems even if no one asked the questions). So homework often took a long time to go over.

I struggled with the best balance of warm-ups, homework review, lesson, and practice for a couple of years, I have to admit. And no one that I taught with seemed to have the same issues as me. Part of that was because they weren't using warm-ups like I was, so they weren't losing that chunk of time at the beginning of class. But I knew the warm-ups and our discussions were beneficial to the students in the long term.

Here's what I've finally landed on that allows us to use our math classes as efficiently and effectively as possible:

Do you have 40(ish)-minute math periods? What does your class structure look like?