Filling the Void

Time to meet all the standards seems fleeting, yet the students also run into empty time during the day. I don’t like empty time. One example of this would be teacher absences. My site has 4 teachers total, so if one is out and a sub doesn’t come we all absorb the extra students. Since I’m busy with my regularly scheduled math class, I like to have challenges for the interlopers to work on. My goal is for these to build number sense or estimation skills, any other vital skill we just don’t hit often enough in the curriculum. Since all of the said students also have me for math sometime, I have a semester long tracking sheet where students log their attempts at said challenges. There goal is to make good headway on at least 15 over the course of the semester. Any empty time can be a challenge time. I have a collection of them so they can work anytime they have spare moments.

Today is one of those days. A teacher is out on a field trip so I have extras. So I threw up this:

1+ 23 – 4+ 56 + 7 + 8 + 9 = 100 . There are other representations of 100 with the 9 digits in the right order and math operations in between. Find some.

I don’t know that this is an especially exciting problem, but the students are working and talking about math. And I can still run my class. I suppose that’s a win for today. They show me the work and write about their thoughts. I make them do that often, write about math. I think its something we often don’t ask enough as math teachers.

Any resource suggestions for self guided math play? I rely on Estimation 180 a lot. Doing a full series would count as a challenge. Five triangles is another resource I use. But I would love any and all other great math resources.



I am a math teacher at a public, alternative high school school. I’m the only math teacher at my site, so I get to teach it all. This is good. The bad? I have 7 different preps! Twitter: @altmath

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