Fly on the Math Teacher’s Wall: Back to School Blog Hop!

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! 4

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.  coc

(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!

a Rafflecopter giveaway



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!


Categories: fly on the math teachers wall and freebie.


  1. 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

      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!

  2. 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?

  3. 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

      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.

  4. 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!

    • 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.

    • 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!

  5. 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!

  6. 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.

    • 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 🙂

  7. 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!

  8. 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.

  9. Melanie Alvarez

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

  10. 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 🙂

  11. 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!

  12. 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!

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