Small Group Quizzes in Math

I love small group quizzes for so many reasons! Its a win win situation. I cannot say enough about this type of strategy. I’ve done group quizzes for many years, but with the help of my peers, I’ve figured out the way that works best for me. I’ve also discovered that it will evolve the more you do it. You’ll get an idea to try something new or you’ll stop doing something else that’s not working the way you want.

What are group quizzes? Group quizzes are collaborative quizzes that give students a chance to deepen their learning through discussions. Imagine awesome engagement and conversations. Imagine all levels of abilities working together and activating growth. THAT’s what happens during a well constructed small group quiz.

I have 2 ways of doing these quizzes:

  1. Students are put into groups of 4. Each student will receive their own version of the quiz. Yes, this means you need at least 4 versions of the same quiz. Students work together through discussions to complete their own quiz. THE DISCUSSIONS ARE AMAZING! I do not allow students to grab each other’s papers and copy straight from them. That is a big no no…(so you do have to walk around a bit, but I can still get so much done while the kids are working together it’s not even funny.)
  2. Students are put into groups of  3, 4 or 5. All students in the group have the same quiz. Assign each student a letter or a number. They write that letter or number beside their name in INK!  The students work together to complete the quiz. (Again, they cannot grab someone’s paper and copy it.) At the end of the allotted time, the teacher will spin a spinner, roll some dice or use some sort of number or letter picker to decide whose paper will be the one graded for the group. The person that is selected will put their paper on top of the group pile with everyone else’s paper below. The quizzes are paperclipped and turned in. I usually grade the top paper only, but I’ll flip through the pile to make sure everyone was successful. I tell the students ahead of time what will happen at the end of the time. Throughout the quiz I give reminders to not allow anyone to sit and do nothing since their paper might be the one graded for the group. A little peer pressure is ok. I don’t allow anyone to be mean, but I’ve never found that to be the case. If I see that someone actually could hurt the group, then I’ll do something creative so that person doesn’t cause any issues.

If you’ve never tried a group quiz or think that your students are too rowdy for this, then think again. Try it! You will need to put some thought into your groups ahead of time. I like to make sure that I have some high abilities with some strugglers. I try to put some quiet people with the loud people. I never let them pick their own groups. I do not ever put all strugglers together or all high abilities together. I usually go by grades in the gradebook and then I think about who gets along. I use my name plates (we make these at the beginning of the year and it is mentioned in the post: 1st Week of Math Class Ideas) to put people in their groups. I will not let kids enter the room until I’ve place the names plates on the desks.

Hopefully, I have you motivated to try this strategy. If you need some quizzes to use, I have started creating some. I will be making more throughout the year, so please check often. Each set has 4 versions of the same quiz, so you can use either of my two strategies that I mention above. If you will follow me on Teachers Pay Teachers, you will know when I upload new resources. They are always 50% off for 24 hours.

Disclaimer: This site contains affiliate links in which I will get a commission if you decide to buy something using the link I provided.

1st Week of Math Class Ideas

You may wonder what should take place in a math classroom the first week of school. I’m sure you have visions of making everything perfect and you know how important it is to establish procedures and start the year on a good note. Since I’ve been doing this for a long time, I thought I would tell you what I usually do, so here goes!

Secondary Math – 1st Week of School

I recommend that new teachers follow a PowerPoint the first day and make sure you give your students all the important rules and procedures. Many teachers have read Harry Wong’s First Days of School. This book has many great thoughts and tips to prepare teachers for the first weeks of school. If you are more established, then you may not want to go over the PowerPoint all in one day and instead do bits and pieces of it throughout the week.

I like to give students an “About Me” page as bell work on the first day. This gives them something to do and it give me time to make sure all is well before I start.

With the “About Me” page, I will also give the students an index card. The index card gets folded in half long ways and students write their name on it. They set the name plate on their desk so that I can start learning names. I use these name plates throughout the year for various reasons.

I keep all name plates for each class on a clip as shown above.

The other thing I like to do during the first days in my math class are activities from YouCubed. The items I focus on are in the Week of Inspirational Math(s). I’ll give more specifics in my weekly plan.

I am on a block schedule and I see my students three times a week. I have Mon/Wed/ Friday classes and Tue/Thur/Friday classes. Classes are 90 minutes except on Friday they are about 45 minutes. Here is what a sample first week would look like in my math class.

  • Mon/Tue Classes – Bell Work (About Me Activity), Name Plate, First Day PowerPoint and Scavenger Hunt. The scavenger hunt helps students become familiar with the syllabus and our online platform. I use Canvas. I put the material needed on this platform and teach them how to find the syllabus, scavenger hunt and the online parent contact form. All are digital, so it’s nice not to take up any paper copies of things.
  • Wed/Thu Classes – Name Plates are handed out. Wrap up anything that was not finished from the previous class. Do the 4 4’s Activity from YouCubed. If time allows, I’ll start the Collatz conjecture (Oh Hail the Elephant.)
  • Friday – I like to finish the Collatz conjecture and then do one more activity or watch other videos from YouCubed. (Be sure to look through the Week of Inspirational Math(s). Another good one that I like to do is building shapes. You can see a demo in the first picture on this post where students are making shapes using string.) I remind students about the materials they need to bring to class on Monday so they can ask their parents to get them over the weekend. I also remind students to complete any paperwork over the weekend.

Take a look at my 1st Week of School for the Secondary Educator in my TpT Store.

I hope you got some good ideas from the lesson plan above. It’s nice to see what other people are doing. Ask your fellow teachers at your school what they do. Collaborate with your peers on other ideas. Most teachers do not start their curriculum until the 2nd or 3rd week of school these days.

Have a great year!

Disclaimer: This site contains affiliate links in which I will get a commission if you decide to buy something using the link I provided.

Give Your Students Hope on a Math Test

Semester finals are coming! Of course you will review and try to prepare your students, but time is limited. How can you help your students do better and still keep your standards high?

USE   AN   ANSWER   BANK.

If you have a 20 question test and you have 20 answers in an answer bank, your test is still challenging but you are giving your students hope which means they will put more effort into trying! That’s what we want, right? EFFORT! 

Will some students guess by using the answer bank? Absolutely! When I give an answer bank, I have two rules:

  • Students have to keep the test for a certain amount of time before turning it in.
  • Students have to show work on all of the problems. 

Try it this year. I think that you will be pleasantly surprised. If students feel like they have an advantage, it makes a big difference in their attitude. Please let me know how this goes for you.

I have two final assessments with answer banks if you would like to try them. (My Algebra 1 Final with an Answer Bank is in the works. Be on the lookout for it soon!)

Finals with answers banks are below:

Algebra STAAR 3 Week Review

Here we are again getting ready for another Algebra STAAR test. Last year was crazy and very hard to prepare students. This year is just as challenging, but in a different way. Last year, no one expected much from the students. Learning math online is super tough. This year, the expectations will be higher. We’ve had a full year of being back in a building. Students have learned more this year, but how will they perform after having some pretty dramatic learning loss from the past few years?

We are well into the 5th six weeks at this point and I only have quadratics left to teach. As far as reviewing for the STAAR, I’ve started a few things. We made STAAR flashcards from the task cards that are in one of my resources and students have done some of the boom cards to practice fill-in-the-blank questions. I’m going to start tutoring once a week after school and invite students that did poorly on the Algebra STAAR benchmark we just gave at the end of February. I will begin a three-week focused STAAR review on April 11th.

Here’s my plan for the last three weeks leading up to the test: (You will not see much on quadratics in this review since this is the topic that was just completed.)

Week 1: Bell Ringers for the next two weeks will be key features of linear, quadratic and exponential graphs. Obj. 4 – Correlation Coefficient and scatterplots for quadratics and exponential functions. Obj. 12(b, c, d) – Evaluating Functions and Algebraic and Geometric Sequences.

Week 2: Domain and Range for Linear, Quadratic & Exponential (Obj. 2a, 6a, 9a). Review of Systems (Obj. 2i, 3f, g, h, 5c). Review of Slope and Graphing Linear Functions (Obj. 3b and d).

Week 3: Start a brain dump. Use the brain dump for bell ringers. Obj. 5a – Solving Equations, Obj.10e – Factoring, Obj. 11b – Laws of Exponents

*I cannot plan for other students that are not mine, but this is a general plan that should work for most situations. Think about your own students and what their strengths and weaknesses are!

**These topics were strategically selected by analyzing past Algebra STAAR exams and knowing the Readiness Standards.

All of this material is in one place in my store if you are interested in purchasing. Click on the pic below to find it in my store: