We’re baaaaaaack! My mathematical blogging friends and I are back to school and ready to share with you some great ideas to get your school year started! Hop through 10 posts to pick up some mathematical freebies, ideas to use in your classroom, and even register to win a few fun back to school prizes!

My college roommate (of 4 years!), Liz, sent me a piece of mail the first month we were in school our freshman year. It was a large pink circle with a coconut on the front that said “COCONUT: you either LOVE it or you HATE it… the beauty is lovers and haters of coconut can still be friends!”. 15 years later I still have that card. There’s something sentimental about it – I’m not sure if it’s because it was my “first” piece of mail in college or perhaps (even more likely) that the sentiment on the card hits really home with me. I LOVE coconut…. Liz HATES coconut, but we were the best of friends instantly.

(Sadly, I couldn’t find a full picture of the coconut card – I need to rectify that on Monday at school! – but here’s two pieces of it cropped from other pictures I had). I think math is a lot like coconut…. you either LOVE MATH or you HATE MATH. And thankfully, lovers and haters of math can still be friends (unless you can’t handle my horribly punny math jokes, then it might be hard to hang out with me too much!)

So what does loving or hating math have to do with the beginning of the school year? Well, we all learn a lot about our students over the first few weeks of school. However, sometimes you need to know more about them upfront so that you aren’t dealing with an “I hate math” meltdown on day 7. My very first year teaching I started a writing prompt with my kiddos. Surprisingly, it hasn’t changed too much over the years, and I’d love to share it with you! (Click on the picture below to download the writing prompt for FREE).

What I’ve learned is that on the first few days of school ALL students, no matter how shy, how difficult, how stubborn, how etc…. will be completely honest with you on this prompt (perhaps more honest with you then they will be for the rest of the year). You will read a lot about hating timed multiplication tests. You will read a lot about hands-on activities, working in groups or individually. You will read a lot about a favorite teacher or least favorite teacher (NOTE: to keep this from being too awkward for my colleagues, I always ask that students NOT name other teachers in this prompt).

I’ve learned to take notes about each of my students, writing them on index cards to remind me throughout the year (Why ask if you aren’t willing to actually follow through and help the student out). I try to shuffle through the index cards on a pretty regular basis – especially when changing up seating charts – to remind me of what the student thinks they need.

Once you’ve learned about your students, you’ll want to help make their mathematical year a bit more fun with activities and relays in your classroom. To help you with that, I’m giving away $50 worth of TpT goodies – $25 worth from me and a $25 TpT giftcard to purchase from my mathematical blogging buddies! Entering is very simple, just use the Rafflecopter link below! I’ll announce the winner next weekend (while I’m relaxing and enjoying my 3-day weekend!) What are you waiting for? Enter now!

WINNER! WINNER!

Wait! Don’t close that browser just yet! Make sure to hop on over to Mr. Elementary Math to read about setting up math routines!

Sidney

Love the Math About Me idea Jamie. I do something similar each year and post it in time for open house. Love the blog hop, sorry I was not able to participate this time! Hoping your back to school is going well!

MissMathDork

We’re 4 weeks in with students! Isn’t that crazy? Hope all is well with you 🙂

amber donahoe

I would love to see dividing fractions relay races

MissMathDork

I don’t currently have one with only dividing fractions in it, but can add it to my list. I do have one with all fraction operations though, https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Fractional-operations-with-unlike-denominators-Silly-Robot-Relay-1384098

Donna

I think the idea that ALL students can be mathematicians is so important, so this is a great formative assessment. We need to move past the idea that some people are good at math and others aren’t!

Donna

Math Coach’s CornerMissMathDork

So true! I try to convey that to parents too. Regardless of how “good” or “bad” you think you are at math…. don’t tell your student! Contrary to what some think, there is not “bad at math” gene!

Susan

I would love to see relay games on place value. I am moving to 3rd and am dreading teaching multiplication and division facts. Can you come up with a relay game that everyone would want to participate in, not just those who already know their facts?

MissMathDork

I currently have this multiplication fact relay. I used it after teaching various multiplication strategies with a remedial 5th grade math class. Even the kids who needed a bit extra time were successful and participated. https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Basic-Multiplication-Facts-Spooky-Day-Relay-A-fun-way-to-review-913159

Jill

Love everything!

MissMathDork

<3 Have a great school year, Jill!

Sara Kovach

I do a Math About me banner each year. The kids love it, and they are able to start meaningful math talks this way.

MissMathDork

Love this idea! It’s so great for students to see themselves as mathematicians!

Roseanne Welte

I would love to see Distributive Property as a relay

MissMathDork

ooooh! Adding this one to my list!

Megan

I agree! Distributive property is a good one.

Deirdre aka Evil Math Wizard

I love the structure of this activity, it can be hard for students to write about math and this is a good way to scaffold it, thanks!

MissMathDork

I found that if I didn’t ask them specific questions, they shut down and didn’t want to “write in math class”. By giving them specific questions to answer, they were more willing to open up and “be real” with me.

Sherry JOHANNES

I agree. Distributive property. 🙂

MissMathDork

Definitely on the list! Hoping to start it soon 🙂

Melanie

I would love to see one with rounding or place value. Maybe even word problems with these 2 skills.

MissMathDork

Great idea, adding it to my list!

The Math Spot

This post really made me think because, at the beginning of the year, I usually have a slew of data about my students based on pre-assessments and information from the previous year’s teacher. What I am missing is the student’s perspective on themselves as a mathematician. What an important piece to know and understand as it will shape the way that a teacher questions, prompts and praises a student!

MissMathDork

Yes! No matter how much data we have on a student, if they “think” they are bad at math we need to work to change that! Knowing their perspective is so incredibly helpful. I’ve done this activity with every grade from 5 to HS Geometry students…. the amount of mathematical “baggage” is enormous and needs to be overcome!

Jenny Glinka

I’m so excited to use your Me as a Mathematician prompt tomorrow! Thank you for sharing 🙂

Jenny Glinka

I second the rounding and place value suggestion for relay races!

Carrie

I would love to see a mathematical race that focused on two step word problems! Thank you!

MissMathDork

Hmmm…. I might need to change the format on that a bit, but it’s something I can absolutely work on. On a few of the operational ones (decimals is coming to mind…) I believe the last 2 or 4 rounds are word problems.

Carey Barzeski

Finding slope between two points!

MissMathDork

Check this one out, Carey! https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Equation-Writing-Frosty-Relay-A-fun-way-to-review-writing-equation-of-a-line-419291

Brandi

I love, love, love the idea of hearing what the students think of themselves as mathematicians. I always think it’s important to help them see themselves as mathematicians, but knowing what they think would make a lot better starting point.

Brandi

The Research Based Classroom

MissMathDork

Math seems to be the subject where students come with the most “baggage”. Being able to overcome those obstacles early in the year and not having to reveal the baggage later in the year is a huge help!

Sunny

i agree with the others who would like to see one using the distributive property.

MissMathDork

On my list! Hoping to start it soon!

huggiebear

Love the all about me activity.

MissMathDork

Thanks so much! Have a wonderful school year!

Sarah

Anything with fractions would be great!

MissMathDork

Hi Sarah! I currently have three relays with fractions in them (https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Missmathdork/Category/Relays-with-Math-Content-print-and-go-/Search:fraction) Are you looking for something more specific?

AMY SMITH

I would love to see equivalent fractions

MissMathDork

Adding it to the list!

Nicole

I would love to see relay races for finding slope or x & y-intercepts.

MissMathDork

Check this one out, Nicole 🙂 https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Equation-Writing-Frosty-Relay-A-fun-way-to-review-writing-equation-of-a-line-419291

Mandy

I second the suggestion about a relay with place value and rounding! 🙂

MissMathDork

Adding it to the list 🙂

Marie Madden

I love the idea of relay races and can’t really think of one that hasn’t already been mentioned.. so just keep up the good work!

MissMathDork

You are very sweet Marie! Best wishes this school year!

Tracy

I am new to your blog and just love your ideas. I moved from kindergarten to fourth grade this year and would love a game for place value and multiplication.

Thanks

MissMathDork

Welcome! I currently have one for multiplication (https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Basic-Multiplication-Facts-Spooky-Day-Relay-A-fun-way-to-review-913159) and the place value one is on my to do list! Thanks so much for stopping in!

Mom2Smithboys

Just found your blog thanks to Math Coach! I would like more ideas on making number line fun for kinders.

MissMathDork

So excited for you to stop in. Hmmmm…. number lines for kinders…. I typically stick to the 4-9 range as my school is 5-8, but I’ll see what I can do 🙂

Kathy Morgan

Love all these great math ideas to start school with! Especially love the way you set up the writing piece, I can see this being very helpful!

MissMathDork

Thanks, Kathy! Best wishes this school year!

Debbie Krueger

I am going to seriously start having my students Journal about their Math understanding this year and your Me as a Mathematician will be an excellent way to jump in. Thanks for the excellent tips to go with it!

Always PrimaryMissMathDork

Thanks Debbie! I can’t wait to see more about your journaling journey!

Anne Patrick

GREAT prompts. I’m eager to know more about my kids mathematically. This will really help me to figure out how to be their best math teacher ever.

MissMathDork

I hope you have the BEST year EVER!! Thanks for stopping in!

Kari Routledge

Anything with addition and subtraction! Thank you!

MissMathDork

Hi Kari,

I’m not sure which level of addition and subtraction you need…. but I do have a few that have both operations in them. Check them out here: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Missmathdork/Category/Relays-with-Math-Content-print-and-go-

sharee

I would love an order of operations relay.

MissMathDork

You’re in luck! Not only do I have one, it’s tiered! https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Order-of-Operations-TIERED-Silly-Monster-Relay-4-relays-in-one-bundle-1564725

Lisa Marshall

odd & even

MissMathDork

I’ve added it to my list 🙂 Thanks!

Melanie Alvarez

I love your Facebook posts and your TPT store! Thank you! It’s good to network with other like-minded teachers.

MissMathDork

Thanks, Melanie! Have a great school year!

April Hawkins

As I have gotten older, I have progressively gotten better in math. I was always terrified of teaching it and of teaching it in middle school. Now I cannot imagine teaching anything but middle school and math! If I can inspire one child to love math, I’ve done my job well!

MissMathDork

It takes a special breed to love middle school math! Your students are VERY lucky to have you! Best wishes this school year 🙂

Christine

This looks great! I would modify it for my third graders, but a great way to get to know students AND incorporate writing. Thank you!

Christine

This looks great! I would modify it for my third graders, but it looks like a great way to get to know students AND incorporate writing. Have a great school year!

MissMathDork

I hope you have a great school year too!!