Using Graphic Organizers in Math Class
Math Note Taking
What is your favorite way to help students organize their math notes? Math wheels are my new favorite:) We know graphic organizers are not just helpful for organizing math information they can also be helpful in creating visual cues that help students remember specific math content. Using color patterns and graphics in the math wheel increases student engagement; and little things like doodle arrows to color, block letters to color and decorate, and terms and examples to colorcode can all contribute to retention. Teaching Rounding Decimals Using the Math Wheel One of the newest math wheels I created focuses on rounding decimals. When I've reviewed rounding decimals with my 6th grade math students in the past, I've noticed that they often remember whatever trick or saying they were taught in previous grades, but they often can't explain the math reasoning behind rounding:( So, to make sure students understand the concepts behind rounding, I included number lines on this math wheel. The number lines gives students a concrete example of the distance between 1 and 2, and a visual for where 1.5 is. We can then visually draw attention to the fact that 1.6 thru 1.9 are closer to 2 and 1.1 thru 1.4 are closer to 1. The students add labels and notes, and there's space for them to add several rounding examples. After the number lines, we move to the benchmarks. Students can draw number lines to label the benchmarks or add other visual reminders about what the benchmarks mean. Last, I'll have students add a rule/saying to help them remember the rounding concepts.....one that each student will remember best.
Rounding Decimals Practice
After the notes have been added to the math wheel, students can do the practice problems all around the page. Above each number is a T, H, or TH, to indicate the place to round to (tenth, hundredth, thousandth). I have the students color their problems/answers according to numbers that rounded up (my example uses green) and numbers that rounded down (pink), which gives a quick, easy visual to see that they knew which way to round. A closer check will then tell me if their answers are actually correct:) (You can always let them just color the background later, for fun!) I hope you're able to use this math wheel! Let me know if you have any questions:)
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Rumors is another great lesson from Mathline! This lesson allows students to explore exponential growth, in the context of spreading a rumor. In addition to the focus on math concepts, this lesson can also help students to understand how quickly rumors can actually spread....an important idea for middle schoolers to consider.
To begin the lesson, students are presented with the following scenario: "Two students who were both born on December 21st, the date of the winter solstice, decide that it would be great not to have to attend school on that day. Therefore, they start a rumor that schools will be closed to celebrate the winter solstice. So, on December 1st, one of the students told two of her friends that school would be closed. On the next day, each of these students tells 2 students and on consecutive days, each of the new students tells 2 more students and so on. If there are 8,000 students in the school district, the question arises as to whether the rumor was started early enough for everyone to have heard it?" Students can act out this scenario by having students form a human triangle, with Student A first, then the two students she told (students B and C), then four students representing the two that Student B told and the two that Student C told, etc (as far as possible, depending on how many students in the class). This will help students visualize the problem and understand how this rumor is being spread. The triangle also help students to understand the growth pattern. The human triangle will only go so far, so students will then need to use their calculators or paper and pencil to find how many days it will take for the rumor to reach 8,000 people. I would recommend providing the students with a blank chart to give some structure to the students' work after they try the human triangle. The chart below includes the first several days (the numbers for the entire chart can be found in the lesson).
In addition to understanding more about exponential growth, students can be asked to determine the algebraic expression to describe the number of new people to hear the rumor each day (2n), as well as the
expression for the total number of people (2n+11). To read the full lesson and the possible extensions, check out the lesson here. 
AuthorHey there! I'm Ellie  here to share math fun, best practices, and engaging, challenging, easyprep activities ideas! Archives
March 2021
