6 Ideas for Setting Up the Middle School Math Classroom

By

This post originally appeared on the blog Math in the Middle.

As a teacher, there is so much to do when it comes to setting up the classroom, that it is hard to know where to start! Over the course of my first six years of teaching middle school math, a few of these classroom projects have become staples in my classroom. In this post, I plan to share a few of these ideas.

(1) Assignment Notebook Board

The first thing my middle school students do (or should be doing!) when they come to class is fill out their assignment notebooks. With some ruler tape that I found at Office Max, I created this assignment notebook board. The number 1 on each day is for what we do in class that day. The number 2 on each day is any homework that is assigned. For example, the 1 might be “Multiply Fractions” and the 2 might be “Pg 232 hw (due tmw).” This has been a useful tool to have posted in the classroom. Each day, we begin class by going over these two items so that students know what to expect!

(2) “Math is Everywhere” Bulletin Board

I have written about this project in a few other posts, but it is one of my all time favorites to start the year! I have two bulletin boards in my classroom. This one gets filled with these math tiles. Students must show how they see math in the real world on their tile. On the back of their tile, they must write a paragraph explaining how math is seen in the topic that they chose! You can click HERE for a free set of the bulletin board letters!

(3) Challenge of the Week

Many of you have already seen or tried out the Challenge of the Week in your classroom! I have loved seeing the pictures! Each week, I put up a new challenge problem. They are optional and students have until the end of the day on Thursday to turn it in. Anyone who gets it correct gets a small prize on Friday when we go over the answer. In my class, that means a mint or a Starburst! Both the 6th Grade Challenge of the Week Problems and the 8th Grade Challenge of the Week Problems are FREE in my TpT store. Enjoy!

(4) Teacher Book Shelf

My teacher book shelf took on some major changes recently, starting with this new system of organizing all of my math workshop materials. I decided to organize them by the type of game or activity, rather than by the topic like I had done in the past. I cleared these shelves off and organized them in these containers that I had ordered a few years ago. If you are looking for the materials and resources that I use for math workshop, be sure to check out my Math Mega Bundle (Upper Elementary/Middle School) and my Math Mega Bundle (8th Grade Math). Both include a huge range of resources to last the whole year!

Below these containers, I have two shelves with labels for Monday through Friday. This is where I put all of my plans and resources that I will be using for the coming week. This has been a useful way to stay organized and prepared throughout the week! As you can see, this picture was taken before I had everything set for the first week of school…

On the bottom of these shelves are my task cards, which very well could be the most difficult resource when it comes to organization! I found these containers at Michaels and they have worked out great for storage. My stash of task cards includes two sets of cards that I use throughout each school year for each grade level. I have a regular set of task cards and then a set of enrichment task cards. Each set takes up two of these containers. Teaching two different grades means I end up with 8 of these containers, which is pretty manageable! Check out the links below if you are interested in the task cards for each grade level!

(5) Bulletin Board (Number 2)

My second bulletin board is filled with some routine-oriented posters. I made these over the course of the last few years. The colored math workshop poster shows where students of each group should be at any given time. The homework data chart is where we record our homework data. As a class, we figure out what percentage of homework we turn in on time each day. Over the course of the year, we graph these and look at trends. It also becomes a fun competition between classes!

(6) Bobblehead Collection

I started my bobblehead collection a while ago and it has just grown ever since! Students enjoy seeing them and it is a fun way for students to get to know me and my interest in baseball! My wife and I are trying to get to all 30 MLB stadiums, and recently made it to Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. Luckily it was a bobblehead giveaway, so the Kevin Appier Royals bobblehead is the most recent addition to the collection!

***

Alex (The Middle School Math Man) is a 6th and 8th grade math teacher from Wisconsin. He is currently in his seventh year of teaching. In addition to teaching middle school math, he also enjoys coaching high school baseball in the spring. Visit him on Facebook and Instagram, or stop by his TpT store.