WHY have students work in pairs?
Just like everyone wants a best friend, because life is better when it's shared with someone else, most students want to work with a partner in math class. And there are many benefits to working together:
And on top of all the above, students are going to level up their understanding of math! And, let's face it, that's the main goal!
HOW can students work in pairs?
Of course, if you were to ask students about their ideal way of teaming up, you’d probably get responses like, "I'll do the odd-numbered problems, and my partner can do the even ones." BUT, that’s NOT at all the approach I have in mind for working in pairs.
You need carefully crafted activities that are set up for students to team up and tackle their own challenges. Well, you’re in luck! I have a few activities that meet this criteria. Each of them will help improve your students' math skills!
#1 My ever popular Battle My Math Ship Games! IMO this is THE BEST PARTNER ACTIVITY ever! Students take turns attacking spaces and sinking ships, just like the original game of Battleship. You can print and go or have your students play digitally. Over 100 different math concepts to choose from, so you can find the exact review for your students. Perfect to enhance engagement and reduce math anxiety!
Educator's Review: If you aren't using the Battle My Math Ship resources yet...you are ABSOLUTELY missing out. The students love the game - and it evens the playing field a bit for struggling students as there is a little luck involved. My students wish there was math battleship for every topic they study. Zero prep (make a copy) and go. – Allyson B.
Learn more about this game and find out what educators are saying HERE.
#2 Take the hassle out of checking math problems with these Partner Check review activities. These user-friendly, printable worksheets are designed to promote independent learning, reinforce math skills, and give students instant feedback. Perfect for building confidence and sharing different perspectives! You can learn more about these dynamic activities HERE.
What educators are saying about these activities...
Wow! My students were so engaged. Each wanted to be the first to get them all right. I love the way they excitedly continued to the end, celebrating each success with fist pumps and "I rocked this!" Thanks for a great resource. – Jeana H.
I really enjoyed using this activity with my students. I like for them to work in partners to practice the skills we learn, but I find that sometimes one person does all the work while the other just copies/listens to the other. This activity was a great way for both people to be actively engaged in the process of practicing skills. – Danielle O’Haren
These "sets" are great! I love that there are several options in each pack--single student, partners, and triples! These are favorites with my students and good conversations arise when the answers are not the same. My students are enjoying this activity and I hope to have all of these in my tool box. – E.G.
#3 These no-prep, iStep activities are designed similar to iMessage. Each sheet includes a problem to solve and text bubbles for verbal steps and student work. Great activity for partners. Perfect review activity for after an assessment or early finishers! Perfect for improving communication skills and social skills! You can learn more about these activities HERE.
#4 These Mathbook activities are designed similar to Facebook. Each sheet includes space for a student profile picture, name, date, emoji, an “I can” statement, a math problem to solve, and space for the teacher or a peer to put their profile picture and write a positive comment. Perfect for improving communication skills and social skills! You can learn more about these activities HERE.
Learn about some other FUN partner activities …
Top 3 Strategies for Effective Partner Work in the Middle School Math Classroom from Lauren Fulton Math
Math Partner Games, Spring Puzzles, and End of Year Activities for 3rd, 4th, and 5th from Math Tech Connections
4th and 5th Grade Math Partner Games from Jennifer Findley
Speed Dating from Teaching High School Math
I remember when I was in school and my teacher would say, “you have 15 minutes to complete your quiz and then we are moving onto the next activity”. It would make me panic and then I wasn’t able to focus to do my best work.
Therefore, one of the things I never want to do to my students is put pressure on them to finish an assessment in a certain amount of time, so the class could move onto the next task. It’s WAY too much pressure!
Of course, I can’t give them all day to complete it, BUT I can give them an ample amount of time to finish and check their work. But, by doing so, I may run into a few problems:
1 – Students that finish early will have nothing to do.
2 – We'd lose learning time, by allowing so much time for an assessment.
I didn’t want these things to happen either, so I created some quick, review activities for students to complete when they finished their assessments or work early. I call these iMath activities, which are based on everyone’s favorite apps. Below is a summary of each activity. Click on the image to link to the blog post with more detail about each activity. I specifically created them for an Algebra 1 course, but several of them can be used in 7th and 8th grade math as well.
MORE ACTIVITIES FOR EARLY FINISHERS
5 Pillars of Math Intervention That Works
– Amanda Nix, Free to Discover
Not only are Math Skill Drills awesome for math intervention, they are the perfect way to meaningfully fill time - especially for early finishers. When students finish an assessment or assignment, prompt them to pull out their Skill Drill and squeeze in some practice!
Skill-Building Equation Puzzles
– Math Giraffe
This set of challenge equation puzzles offers a fun approach to building problem-solving and algebra skills. You can also use these when teaching substitution or the transitive property. They are designed to help students build skills needed for solving systems of equations, even if they have never heard of systems before! They will be using substitution and the transitive property mentally, whether they know it or not.
Geometry Vocabulary Word Search Activities
– Kacie Travis, The Efficient Classroom
Learning vocabulary is such an important part of learning geometry. These word search activities increase students' familiarity with the vocabulary words in a fun way! They are the perfect activity to distribute after a unit test, to early finishers, or for sub lesson plans.
Mystery Graphs with Multiple Math Skills
– Rise Over Run
Students always love coordinate graph pictures! Instead of just practicing plot ordered pairs, why not incorporate other math skills as well? With these mystery graphs, students must first work out math problems to get their points. Then they graph them to reveal a picture.
It is okay to provide a brain break for early finishers
– Damman's Algebra room
Planning for instruction that’s fun for your students (and you) doesn’t HAVE to be hard. In fact, it SHOULDN’T be.
Collect and finds are a a double win! They are done for you and keep the early finishers occupied so you can focus on those who need more help. 🎉 Here is a free Collect and Find so you can see what they are all about. I promise, you will not be disappointed.
How to Get Secondary Students to Behave for a Substitute
- Kacie Travis, The Efficient Classroom
Teachers, let’s face it. It is easier to come to school sick than prepare for a sub. And the worst part is coming back to 3 pages of how poorly your class behaved. Oddly, you may have notes about students who have never stepped a toe out of line and it will make you wonder what got into your students and make you sick at your stomach all at the same time. It happens to the best of us. Be prepared for a sub by having these safe-guards in place. [READ MORE]
Get off to a great start day 1!
- Rise Over Run
The first day of school sets the tone for the year. Engage students with a math activity, get to know them, and let them get to know you and your expectations. In this blog post, you'll find some favorite activities for the beginning of the school year. [READ MORE]
Keeping it R.E.A.L. in Math Class
- Amanda Nix, Free to Discover
Congratulations on joining the elite group of crazy math teachers! You will now inevitably be asked, "when am I ever going to use this?" Well, you better make sure you're armed with an answer. Check out this post for four keys to keeping math R.E.A.L. for students. [READ MORE]
Bellwork Keeps Me Sane
- Mrs. E Teaches Math
Teaching procedures is the most important thing you can do at the beginning of the school year. This beginning of class procedure saves my sanity and starts class on the right foot. It's not too late to implement in your classroom tomorrow! [READ MORE]
High schoolers want fun too!
- Damman's Algebra Room
I'd like to let you in on a little secret, students love to play games and WORK hard for a piece of candy. ha! For real though, I strongly encourage you to give them a try. Check out this easy, low-prep game that incorporates movement and will guarantee 100% participation. [LEARN MORE]
Math Teacher Hack: Use Sticker Paper for Notebooks (especially for coordinate planes!)
- Math Giraffe
Free Coordinate Plane Stickers, Graphic Organizers, and Tips: Using Sticker Labels to Make Math Notebooks Interactive, Easy, and Efficient [READ MORE]
First Day of School (and beyond) Advice for New Math Teachers
- Kate's Math Lessons
I sent out a survey to over 10,000 math teachers. Here's a round-up of the advice they shared for new math teachers! [LEARN MORE]
Classroom Management: How to Manage Middle Schoolers
- Jamie Miller Math
Let’s talk about classroom management; the thing that they don’t really teach you how to do in college (at least not when I was in school). Classroom management is something that many teachers struggle with during their first year of teaching and it can make or break your school year. I’m here to tell you that classroom management does get better! [READ MORE]
STATIONS MAZE from Mrs. E Teaches Math – Stations mazes are great because they get students up and moving around the room. They also encourage students to check their work carefully since an incorrect answer will eventually send them back to a problem they have already solved. A digital version is included for absent students.
BOOM CARDS from Kate's Math Lessons – Your students will LOVE getting instant feedback with these digital task cards! In a nutshell, Boom Cards are interactive, self-checking activities. Students are shown one question at a time and get immediate feedback on their answers. Boom Cards can also be printed if you prefer paper task cards for stations, games, or scavenger hunts. Read more about these activities HERE.
MINI MYSTERIES from Lauren Fulton –Who doesn’t love a good mystery? With Mini Mysteries, students use standards-based math problems to solve murder mysteries! Each mystery comes with a mystery story, clue sheet (AKA, math problems that don’t feel like math problems), and a class set of suspect cards. As students work their way through the clue sheet, they narrow down the suspect list to find the guilty suspect! Print & digital versions come in each set.
OLD MATH GUY from Free to Discover - Engage your math students in interactive matching activities TWO different ways! Students play Old Math Guy (think Old Maid) in small groups. “Matches” are mathematical matches between 2 cards (ie 2(x+4) and 2x+8). Need a digital solution? The same cards can be used to complete an individual drag-n-drop practice activity in Google Slides.
PRINT AND DIGITAL MATH PUZZLES from Scaffolded Math and Science – Each set of math puzzles comes in both print and digital form. The digital versions are drag-and-drop in GOOGLE Slides. The puzzles make for engaging classwork, station activities, partner work and review.
How do you use clip charts?
I'm an educational blogger and curriculum designer. I am enthusiastic about providing creative, comprehensive, and clear resources for middle and high school math teachers. My goal is to create content that is easy to implement for the teacher, and helps students Connect Knowledge with Understanding - One Lesson at a Time.