Note-Taking in Upper Elementary and Middle School Classes
How much do your math and ELA students love taking notes?!
What's your favorite method for taking notes with your upper elementary or middle school students?
Maybe your favorite math method is different from your favorite ELA method. Maybe they're similar:-)
I used to use fold it ups (or foldables) quite often in both math and language arts. However, my middle school classes were always 40ish minutes long and often, no matter how prepared I was, creating the fold it up just ate up too much of the class time.
Using Fold It Ups
Sometimes there wasn't enough time to add the notes before math or language arts classes was over.
And the fold it ups were kind of hard to keep organized. We tried using folders and envelopes, and in my last years of using them, I tried using a bound book of fold it ups. I took all my math fold it ups and organized them in the order we'd use them during the school year, added some blank pages in between them, and had them bound as a book for each math student. Then all the fold it ups stayed in the book. Some remained attached on their original page because they were never totally cut out; some were glued or taped onto the blank pages. This method of organizing the notes was the one that worked best for my math students.
I never did that with ELA...because I stopped teaching that class before I had this idea, lol.
But then, I started making math wheels....
Math Wheels for Taking Notes
My new favorite note-taking method for middle school math (and ELA if I still taught it) became the wheel graphic organizers - Math Wheels and ELA Wheels. I love these note-taking wheels for so many reasons!
Benefits of Using Math or ELA Wheels for Taking Notes
1) All the notes on these graphic organizers are on one surface/one side of a page (no folding or unfolding to add info...and then again to find the info:-).
2) The notes are engaging!
3) The wheels have a patterned background that typically includes some practice problems, so students have their notes and practice examples all on one page - this is super helpful when they need a refresher later in the year.....they can look at the notes and the problems they solved.
4) It's SO easy to store these graphic organizers! Math and ELA wheels can easily be stored in a folder or envelope. Or, they can be hole-punched and kept conveniently in a binder. If you use a type of interactive notebook, they can be added to that. And then students can reference these notes ALL YEAR!
5) Students get to color the background, so they get that little added coloring benefit as part of their day:-) They may choose to color in a way that helps them remember or focus on a particular aspect of the content. This is another opportunity to be creative in math class, while using color and coloring to help them learn.
Have you tried math or ELA wheels? If not, I hope you will! There are several free ones here on the blog:
Problem Solving Wheels
Rounding Decimals Wheel
Fraction, Decimal, Percent Wheel
Percent of Number Wheel
You can access all my Math and ELA Wheels on TPT:
To Read Next:
Two Types of Digital Coloring Activities
Remote Learning Activities
There are so many distance learning activities available for your upper elementary and middle school math classes right now!
What will work best for your math students (or for your ELA students, or science students, etc, if you also teach other classes)?
What do your students like? But just as importantly, if not more importantly, what provides great practice of the math (or other) skills during this time of virtual learning?
Since I'm such a lover of color by number activities, I want to discuss two styles of digital color by number: the 'pixel art' mystery picture style and the 'fill color bucket' style.
Pros and cons of each coloring activity
Each of the items on my 'pros and cons' list could be viewed as a 'pro', depending on your point of view, or as a 'con.' So I'm not necessarily labeling them as one or the other (which would just be my opinion); I'm simply stating what the possible benefits and drawbacks could be:-)
Pixel art mystery picture:
1) Students don't have to engage in the coloring aspect of the activity - they need to solve, enter the answer, and the coloring appears.
2) Fairly quick activity, especially if a student understands the skills quite well.
3) Students may be able to find the answer in the conditional formatting, depending on how the conditional formatting was designed.
4) Self-checking: if the squares don't change color, students know they were incorrect and can enter a new answer.
5) Easy to grade: teachers can see who is on the right track as students are working, if the color is filling in.
'Fill color' bucket color by number:
1) Students engage in the coloring - students must look for the answers in the shapes and color each one (they can select more than one shape at a time if comfortable, so that can speed things up).
2) Coloring takes more time, especially if students 'play' with the colors a bit to get the shade they want. Choosing their own shades gives them a little chance to be creative.
3) Students may be able to use the answers in the pattern to help them as they're trying to solve the problems. Depending on the creator, some answers may be quite similar, making it harder for students to 'guess' the right answer.
4) Students' final patterns may look a little different from one another, depending on the shades they chose.
5) Easy to grade: teachers can quickly check the answers on the right hand side or check the coloring pattern.
Both styles of color by number are awesome! But which one is right for your students? Maybe both are good for your students, depending on the day or depending on the content. Maybe different styles are right for different students....we know how different students are:-) The only way to really know which is 'best' is to try both versions and see how it goes!
To Read Next:
Hey there! I'm Ellie - here to share math fun, best practices, and engaging, challenging, easy-prep activities ideas!