### First Day of Math Class Activity - Pentominoes Revisited

Back at the beginning of August, I wrote about using pentominoes on the first day of math class. I used this activity again today, on the first day of math with my new classes, and I am so glad that I did!

I was again so impressed with the way the students worked together and were so persistent in trying to make that rectangle! I did give the class a hint after about 10 minutes or so, showing them the 2 pentominoes that go at the top of the rectangle. I have a magnetic set that I can use on the blackboard, which is pretty handy.

In all classes, we spent about 20-25 minutes working on the task, which was longer than last year, I believe. And, I think I waited a little longer this year before giving them any hints, because we had more time.

In my first two classes, only one group finished (after using the hint....or two), and they finished at the very end of the period. In my 3rd and 4th classes, a group finished early enough to go around to the other groups and offer them help. It was fun to watch them go back to check their finished rectangle to be sure that they didn't steer the other groups wrong.... and they were so willing to help the other students.

It was a great math day!

AND, I remembered to take pictures this year!

1. This was one of my favorite activities, as well. However, you're much nicer than I was.

I made the kids find all the pentamino shapes first and then try to figure out the puzzle. The closest I came to giving them a game board was a hint: How many pentaminoes are there? How many total tiles? What are the possible areas using 60 tiles? Which one makes the most sense? Oh, and I never did give them the answer. It made a great go-to activity for later as they persistently tried to figure it out.

It was also my favorite go-to activity during those long, arduous inservices. I had a graph paper notebook that had several 6 X 10 attempts to remember the solution. ;)

Hope you have a terrific year!
Pam

1. Pam,
Thanks for the great ideas! Would I be able to fit what you did into 20 minutes? (About how long did it take them to find the shapes first?)
I really haven't used pentominoes for anything other than this activity...I inherited the sets I have from another teacher. So, I'm definitely not as experienced with them as you are. If I find time to go back to them this year, I will...and 'll put more thought into what we can do with them. If not, you've given me more to challenge them with next year. Thank you!
Ellie

### Memory Wheels - First Day, Last Day, and Any Day in Between!

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### How Much Math Homework??

I am very curious about math homework in middle school, from a teacher perspective:     How much math homework do you give?     What kind of homework do you give?     How do you go over it in class? Let me explain why I ask these questions. I have taught 6th grade math for eight years, and every year, my goal is to "perfect" the homework issue. My basic issue is that I feel that I spend too much time going over it (not necessarily every day, but often). In the past, we have reviewed homework in the following ways:    1. going over answers as a class    2. self-checking answers that are on the board and sharing any questions    3. partner-checking and then verifying    4. choosing only a few problems to check When I taught elementary school (for 12 years), I never seemed to have this problem....we had 60 minutes for class and I never struggled to fit everything in. But at middle school, we have 44 minutes (minus time to switch for classes), and I just haven't fo

### Math Class - First Day Activity

Rectangle of pentominoes Many 6th graders seem to have a pretty negative attitude about math, so I try to do something interesting to "grab" them during our first class. Last year, during the first math class, we spent part of the period working with pentominoes. Before working with the pentominoes, however, we played a name game so we could learn each others' names (I find it impossible to start anything else if I don't know some names, and fortunately, I learn them fairly quickly). rectangle outline For the activity, I divided the students into groups of 3 or 4. The directions for the activity were not complicated - the task was to make a rectangle, using all of the pentominoes. I gave students an outline of the rectangle, as pictured to the left, so they would know the correct size of the rectangle. The squares in the grid are each one inch. The rectangle is 5 squares (inches) wide and 13 inches long (13 inches includes the row that has the "Pent