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May 17, 2021

Making an Exponential Impact: My Favorite Math Lessons

Share My Lesson has always strived to help educators find fun and exciting lessons and resources to help their students become engaged in the content. And now Share My Lesson has made it even easier by creating two math collections: one for elementary and one for secondary grades.


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Share My Lesson Math Resources

After getting my undergraduate degree, I spent a year in Kansas City, Mo., working in an eighth-grade math classroom as a City Year AmeriCorps Member. In that position, I provided whole class support, but I also developed individual lesson plans and activities for students who were a part of my focus group. I met with these students each week, either one-on-one or in small groups, to provide them with additional tutoring and support in learning math. When creating my lesson plans for my focus group students, I was, of course, always striving to find creative ways to engage them in the concepts they would be learning. Some of these lesson plans proved to be more engaging to my students than I had even hoped for, but a few ended up being flops when it came to getting my students excited about learning the topic. Unfortunately, I wasn’t familiar with Share My Lesson back then, but if I had been, perhaps there wouldn’t have been those flops.

I recently had the job of curating Share My Lesson’s math resources, and I used ideas that had worked with my former students. Share My Lesson has always strived to help educators find fun and exciting lessons and resources to help their students become engaged in the content. (I found so many gems.) And now Share My Lesson has made it even easier by creating two math collections: one for elementary and one for secondary grades. In the Share My Lesson elementary math collection, you will find favorite lesson plans and activities ranging from counting to multiplication/division to financial literacy. And in the secondary math collection, you will find resources covering topics from algebra to calculus to personal finance.

Elementary Math Collection

Both collections contain many worthwhile lessons that are sure to help even the most reluctant learners give math a chance. For example, the elementary collection includes lessons on fractions that feature everything from amusement parks to running and riddles. If your students are like the ones I taught, fractions are a hard concept to grasp; after recognizing that my students were not only struggling with handling fractions in the algebraic equations they were solving but also were struggling with understanding what fractions were as a concept, we ended up diving back into reviewing the basics of fractions. Naturally, this led me to pull out my arts and crafts materials so I could create pizza slices made from construction paper so that my students could manipulate the pizzas to create visual representations of fractions. Raise your hand if you have used pizza slices to help teach your students fractions. I’m guessing every educator out there who has taught fractions will raise their hand. Now, raise your hand if you have created a video lesson with your dog that uses pizza slices to teach your students fractions. I certainly can’t raise my hand to that one, but elementary teacher Sarah Dahlman can.

Sarah Dahlman, one of my personal favorite Share My Lesson contributors, created an adorable video lesson with her dog Lucy that also uses pizza slices to provide a short introduction to fractions. View her lesson here. Or check out another creative lesson on fractions from the U.S. Census Bureau, a Share My Lesson partner: In Statistics in Schools, students use fractions to compare the number of amusement parks in each of the 50 states. View the lesson here.

Not looking for a lesson on fractions? Check out some of the other stimulating lessons in the collection:

Secondary Math Collection

Share My Lesson’s secondary math collection is also certain to provide you with lessons and activities to help your students deepen their math knowledge and become prepared for smart financial decisions in the future.

If you have been hit once again with the infamous student question—“When am I ever going to use this in the ‘real world’?”—you might be interested in the Importance of Math: Video-Based Empowerment Lesson, from Share My Lesson partner Career Girls. The lesson dives into how math can provide students with some great tools to succeed in everyday life and in a future career.

Share My Lesson has also partnered with Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Discovery Education, Google's Applied Digital Skills and Next Gen Personal Finance to help you educate your students on how to become financially secure in the future with resources like:

Also, for lesson plans that make cross-curricular connections, check out Journeys in Film’s lesson The Math of Space Travel: Orbits and Conic Sections with Hidden Figures or Statistics in Schools’ lesson An Analysis of the Millennial Generation. Or, for project-based lessons, check out MIT Blossoms’ lessons, Flaws of Averages and Tragedy of the Commons.

     Megan with some of her students from a  lunchtime leadership group she hosted

This collection also provides a wealth of resources on topics such as algebra and geometry. A favorite activity I did with my focus group students involved linear equations. My students were learning how to graph linear equations, and because they loved anything that was competitive, I decided to reinforce and engage them in learning by creating a competition. I took masking tape and created large coordinate planes on the floor—one for every team—and handed each team a length of string that would be used as a line on the coordinate plane. Each team was given the same linear equation and had to try to graph the correct line with the string on the coordinate plane before the other team did. Each team was also given a dry erase board and marker so they could use them to rearrange the linear equation if it wasn’t already in slope-intercept form. I did this activity with a colleague who brought a few of his students to compete against mine. Whichever team was able to graph the line first received a point in its favor. My students not only got to show off their skills, but they also demonstrated such caring and patience for their teammates. If a teammate was struggling with the activity, the others would pause and take the time to help teach their teammate how to do it. It was such a simply constructed activity, but my students absolutely loved it.

To help your students in learning about the slope of a line and linear equations, check out these two lessons contributed by Share My Lesson members:

As I’m sure you can tell at this point, Share My Lesson’s math collections contain a plethora of engaging resources that are bound to make an exponential impact on your students. So check them out, and if you have a tried-and-true math lesson you want to share, be sure to upload it and it might just get featured in the collections.

Megan Ortmeyer

Megan Ortmeyer is an SML Team Member and has worked in the AFT Educational Issues Department since fall 2018. She received her M.A. in education policy studies in May 2020 from the Graduate School of Education and Human Development at the George Washington University.

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