Math Block Makeover

Teacher truth on the blog tonight, I do not like math. I wish you could see me cowering behind my computers screen right now!  I have tried tirelessly to enjoy it, really I have!  It all stems from my own experiences in school.  I was that kid in AP English classes and remedial math classes..numbers and I are like oil and water.  We don't mix well together.  Ask me to write a detailed essay about a novel, done.  Read a poem and come up with my own variation, happily.  Assign me an algebra equation or geometry project, I will go cross-eyed.  But, when I began teaching I promised myself that my negative experiences with math would not seep into my own teaching.  I wanted math to be fun and interactive for my students, unlike the experiences I had growing up.  

One of my grad professors once compared good teaching to the ability to form yourself into a pretzel; being able to adjust and change to fit every situation. This analogy has stuck with me and I have been forming myself and our math block into quite a few pretzels this year! This is my second year using Pearson enVisions for our math curriculum.  The lessons are very intensive and difficult to fit into the time frame that we have.  Especially, when some of my students leave for basic skills 40 minutes into the math block and often miss important points of instruction.  I'm sure so many of us have the same issues which is why I knew I needed to switch things up!  I have been inspired by so many guided math posts and resources so I knew I needed to give it a try.  Today was a step in the right direction!

To start we warmed up with my new math warm up workmats that correspond to each lesson in our subtraction chapter.

 The students were able to independently complete them, which is so important to activate prior knowledge and connect to previous lessons!

After our warm-up, I brought the students together for some math talk and discussion about our previous concepts with our anchor chart.  We worked through questions on the chart and turned and talked to our partners about what we already knew.  

Afterwards, enVisions has a hands-on minds on partner activity that the students are supposed to start their lesson off with.  It's a great activity but most of the time, my students are unable to complete it independently and my co-teacher and I have to stop the lesson to model it a few times before my students understand.  A lightbulb moment happened for me finally...why don't we do this activity in small groups after the instructional video instead of the other way around?!  Done and done!

Video first...we're living on the wild side in room 11!

After watching the instructional video on the SMART board and discussing with our math partners, we split up into groups.  Two groups stayed with their partners and played a game and the other two groups worked with me or my co-teacher to complete the small group hands-on activity.  This gave me a chance to work directly with my higher needs students while my more independent students were able to practice the skill with their partner in a hands on way.

The partners were working on my new spin to subtract tens game.  It's a format that they're used to so they were able to work independently and it tied into the lesson.  I was so happy to see them engaged and interacting with each other without the assistance from the teacher!

When 15 minutes were up, we switched!  The small groups worked with their partners to complete the game and the game groups were able to work with my co-teacher and I in a small group setting.  We were able to switch the numbers and make the activities more challenging for them.

After both groups successfully met with the teachers and played the games, I knew my students were able to tackle the independent practice for our subtracting tens lesson.  This gave me time to walk around the room and assist any students that still needed help. My kiddos made me so proud and were able to complete the independent practice AND problem solving completely independently. 

We weren't done yet.  My kiddos need a lot of practice writing in math and responding to higher order thinking questions.  I took some of the questions from the enVisions lesson and typed them up for us to respond to in our journals.  Today, we completed this entry together but as the topic goes on I will release the reigns...I promise ;) 

We closed with a 2 minute timed fluency subtraction practice that my kiddos so desperately need!  They were still engaged and ready to tackle their last task!

This was a great first day moving in the direction of a more guided approach using our math curriculum!  I know there's a lot of work to be done but my hope is that I'm providing my students with a more hands-on and exciting environment to learn math in!  Tomorrow we'll be using the same structure but with a different game from my new math pack.  If you're teaching using the enVision curriculum and want some things to supplement OR are teaching subtracting with multiples of ten check out my new packet on TpT here.

I can't wait to see what new pretzels await me tomorrow!  Enjoy your night!


  1. I was on a committee looking at Envisions Math and I loved all of the technology they offered. It is great to see how you were able to incorporate it into a guided math approach.

    1. Hi Erin, thanks for stopping by! There are a lot of components to Envisions but I do think the technology piece is one of its' highlights! It's been a difficult program to adjust to just because there's not much independent practice and review of previous taught skills. Once a skill is introduced it really isn't spiraled back to. I'm hoping to work out a way to incorporate more review hence the math fluency review and warm-up! Hope you're enjoying your week!