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Math Lesson Plans

Math Lesson Plans in a Pandemic are TOUGH… but so are you!

Your Math Lesson Plan Questions Answered Here!

math lesson plans

If you’re like me you’re teaching during this pandemic – virtually, hybrid, in person and then swiftly back to virtual you are STRUGGLING with math lesson planning. And after months, do you still feel like you have no idea what you’re doing? You’re not sure if your math lesson plans are right. Let me reassure you YOU ARE DOING AMAZING WORK.

YOU’RE DOING AMAZING WORK. EVEN IF IT FEELS LIKE YOU’RE FAILING EVERY DANG DAY.

YOU ARE A SUPER HERO IN THIS PANDEMIC.

Seriously, take a moment to reflect on where your students started and what they can do now! You are leading students through a pandemic, teaching them in news ways, and supporting their social emotional needs. 

And that’s all amazing, but you’re still struggling with finding what to plan and how to plan for all the things in a sustainable way. Yup. YES! Uh Huh.
I’ve compiled the common questions and answers from teachers all over to help us share some knowledge on how to make planning sustainable and enjoyable while delivering high quality lessons to our students no matter how they join our class.

How do you know what to put in your math lesson plans? 

Prioritize

Prioritize. Your math lesson plans should only include the highest priority content.
How can you find the high priority content to add to your math lesson plans?
Start with the “critical areas” for your grade level and then implementing some high yield routines. First, go to the CCSS website and find your grade level introduction to the standards. (Here is 3rd grade- just click on your grade level on the right side). There you’ll see an explanation of the critical areas for your grades math (it’s only about 1 page of reading & very useful). Use that to help you pick and choose the units you will cover this school year. 

Add: High Yield Math Routines to your Math Lesson Plans!

Add routines to your math lesson plans. High Yield Routines for Grades K-8 by By Ann McCoy, Joann Barnett, Emily Combs defines high yield routines as an “easily implemented routines that will provide teachers with opportunities to enhance the content knowledge and mathematical practices of their students.” Routines provide a safe and predictable structure for your students that allow them to go deep in their math understanding & practice essential mathematical skills (like attending to precision & making sense of problems and persevere in solving them). Routines are quick & easy to plan, but avoid drill & kill and surface level work, and instead drive toward deep conceptual understanding of math concepts.

Math warm up

#1 Routine: Math Warm Up

I suggest you add 2 types of routines to your math lesson plans.
First, a warm up routine. This could include any of the high yield routines such as quick images, number of the day, which one doesn’t belong, or alike & different. These routines function as a spiral review while also giving students time to develop math meaning through exploration and discussion.
I have several for all grade levels listed here for sale.

We know “whoever is doing the talking is doing the learning” 

Who is doing the thinking in your classroom?
Math lesson plans

#2 Routine: Problem Solving

Second, add a problem solving routine to your math lesson plans. Develop a simple problem solving routine that will allow your students to develop their conceptual understanding through grappling and discussion. Start by launching the problem, then let students grapple independently, finally synthesize the learning with a share and discourse.

Other Ideas for your Math Lesson Plans:

Add some winter fun to your math classroom!

I know the next thing you’re going to ask me is, where do I get the problems? Start with your curriculum. Are there any high quality math tasks in your lessons? Illustrative math (6-8) & EngageNY (k-5) are open source curriculums that both have problems that work well for problem solving! Or you can grab the 5th grade problems pictured on my TPT shop.

How do you plan for virtual live classes? 

Weekly Template of Slides for Math Lesson Plans

Anyone else TIRED of making slides?
My math lesson plans are done in a weekly template of slides. Then, I can easily repurpose slides by swapping out new problems for each week. 

math lesson plans
This is what I use for math lessons! Available in my TPT shop.

An Opening & Closing

famous mathematicians
Her is how I use the Famous Mathematician posters as an opening.

Add an opening and closing to your math lesson plans. This will help you welcome your students in within the first 5 minutes. Consider adding a discussion prompt to get students engaged in the chat as soon as they join the live meeting. I have also recently added a quote from a famous Mathematician to my opening slide. I ask students to reflect on the quote and insert tidbits about the person’s life and career. 

The RIGHT Tech Tools for your Math Lesson Plans

I reviewed my top 3 favorite tech tools to help you find one that will work for you. Read my reviews here.

What are your math lesson plans for asynchronous days? 

Projects.

Your math lesson plans need Projects.
To be honest, my students aren’t motivated to complete practice problems on the days between our live classes. When they do complete them the work is low quality. However, when I engage them in relevant project based tasks students are engaged and completing work.

My 6th graders loved our most recent project- Ratio’s Cookbook Project. With 80% participation and an increase in office hours participants, I’m calling projects a win. In live class we spent 5-10 minutes sharing work, asking questions and discussing the project. We ended the project with a culminating “recipe party” where students shared recipes in breakout rooms. My students were motivated and excited to complete the project. Here’s what they had to say about the project vs. practice problems. 

I’m not the only one who thinks your math lesson plans need projects. My friend, Kristen from “Moore Than Just x” write about how Project Based Learning can get your real results!

Math classroom community

What do you do when students don’t do work or come to live lessons? 

When students don’t come to school I worry about them. I designated time in my math lesson plans to connect with families. It honestly only takes 5 minutes to call a family.

I reach out to their family out of concern. By approaching the absence from a place of concern and support it lowers any defenses and helps families see that my main motive is to help. I have found when I reach out this way families are often struggling with technology, internet, or family crisis. I suggest you make a phone call. Don’t send an email or a text, but reach out with concern and willingness to help. Your students and their families will appreciate your compassion.

How do you plan for virtual assessments ?

This is yet another thing about virtual teaching that feels unfair and impossible. I get it. But we owe it to our students to ensure they continue to make progress and have the proof of that progress. Assessment is one of the best ways to show students the incredible gains they are making!

My math lesson plans include daily exit tickets. The exit tickets ask students to explain their thinking in addition to the multiple choice questions. This allows instant feedback from the multiple choice. The extended response allows you to understand their thinking and assess what additional supports are needed. Exit tickets are a majority of the data I gather.

Summative assessments were more of a challenge, but required. Some things I did were: 

  • Made them available only on the live. 
  • If students missed class they had to take it during office hours (live) 
  • Students cameras had to be on. 
  • Students solved on paper and submitted a picture of their work as a part of their assessment. 

Things I couldn’t control for, the use of a calculator or someone sitting off camera helping them. I continue to teach my students about integrity and the purpose of the assessment. After that, I just hope for the best.

But what about the kids who still aren’t doing anything? 

I know, it is frustrating and we feel like our hands are tied and we could be doing so much more if we could see them in school more often. I continue to make my math lesson plans high quality. So, when student DO show up they are getting quality instruction.

Other things to try:

*reach out to the social worker
*ask their friends to call, text, or chat them on their video game.

What other questions do you have about Math Lesson Plans (or anything else)?

Are math lesson plans still overwhelming you? Put your burning questions or the questions that are keeping you up at night down below! I’ll reach out to my network and continue to gather resources and answers for all of our questions. It might just be a Top 5 phrase of 2020, but “We’re in the together”, after all.


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Hi, I'm Mona!

I help 1st – 5th grade teachers like you develop a classroom that lays the foundation for engaging and rigorous student led math instruction.

Learn more about me and how I can help you here. 

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