I am a brand new teacher, and I did my student teaching in a very traditional high school where direct instruction was pretty much the order of the day. Now I'm teaching 7th grade, and my department chair thinks I need to make my lessons more interesting. I already feel like it's hard to cover all the topics I need to in our 45 minute long periods, by the time I get through the warmups and homework review, I really need to go over whatever lesson I need to teach them, and let them do some practice problems, and I don't even find time for that sometimes. I have tried playing games like Jeopardy, but those seem better suited for review than for new material. ANyb ody have any suggestions? Thanks!

Do you need to go over the entire homework every class period? My teacher does this in 2nd grade and personally I find it a waste of time.

You can add spice to your warm ups.

I would offer more advice but I'm not sure it is appropriate for 7th grade.

I asked my own 7th grader what he does and what he likes. Here's the result of that conversation:

His current teacher gives examples and passes out worksheets. His favorite teacher ever was his 2nd grade teacher. He taught hands on math and was funny about it.

My college professor was a high school teacher. She had manipulatives and thinking games that applied to what they were doing. Her goal was to try to get the students to figure out solutions, in many different ways, for themselves before she teaches a formal lesson. I personally haven't figured out how she does this. She is awesome!

Hands on investigations/problem solving and real life problems to solve help to spice up math. A lot of kids need to physically sort through things or have it connect to something that they can see in the real world.

What topics are you covering? Maybe we can help more that way.

I don't go over all the homework - I ask for a problem or two from the class that was difficult, and I have other students got o the board to solve them.

Right now we're doing integers - adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing. I had them get up and walk a number line. It was okay, but even that wasn't too exciting. Some kids really get it, and some don't. I need to make sure the ones who are not understanding end up getting it, without boring the ones that do!

You could also use the colored dots for counters -- talking about red being negative and blue or black being positive (at least with adding and subtracting... it could potentially work for mult. and div.).

Google the topic you are looking to spice up (In this case, I typed in "math with integers activities" and came up with several things), and peruse the stuff that shows up. There is a lot of interesting (sometimes) things on the web. Look through this site http://classroom.jc-schools.net/basic/math-integ.html and see if anything looks interesting to you.

Just as a way to start.... But don't forget that not every lesson has to be exciting. But it is good to have some every now and then. They should be interesting -- something that they can connect with -- but that doesn't always equal fun.

I think any time you can have the students doing things with their hands or bodies it makes more of an impression and helps them connect the work in their text books to the real world. Your idea of having the kids walk the number line was good, even if it wasn't super exciting. I would continue to integrate things like this, as well as lots of manipulatives. I also agree with myangel above. Google is your best friend in finding new activities.

Finding a balance between your advanced students and the ones who need more support is the million dollar question of teaching, I believe. How familiar are you with differentiated instruction? It might be helpful to google that as well.

Have students work in a group to solve a problem and then share it with the class either on the overhead or a large sheet of paper.

Find a real-world project with integers and have students work on it. Get It Together: Math problems for grades 4-12 by Tim Erickson and Rose Craig is a good book with problems on various topics for students to work together on solving.

My classroom theme is "Keepin it Real". Everything I do connects to every day life. For the integer example, you could have them balance a checkbook, but replace subtraction the the addition of a negative (which, is, after all, what subraction really is). Throw in a fee reversal or two and you have the whole subtract a negative thing going. You could also do this with a fake credit card account. This approach also reinforces decimals .

Find a real life application to every single thing you teach. 7th graders need more than one class period on any given topic anyway, so do direct instruction one day and projects the next. Also, one thing that gets my students really excited for math class (strange, I know, especially for inner city kids) is that I make them keep a "real life math" journal. They have to write at least two entries a week describing real life uses of whatever concept we're studying in class. At first they protest, but then they get into it, and then into the subject themselves, which makes the projects even more exciting. We've done all sorts of stuff, like planning parties using linear equations to decide what we're going to serve and how many people to invite, to creating a bus schedule for a 3 route bus "system" using systems of equations. We've also played yahtzee (probabilty), done polls at school and in public (statistical methods), computed grades from a fake grade book (percentages, decimals and how my grading system works), among many other things.

__________________ The light at the end of the tunnel has been turned off due to budget cuts.

For checking homework one of the teachers I work with put all of the answers on the board, except that some of them are wrong. The kids have to go through their homework, find the answers he got wrong, and they go through those together. You might consider making your homework shorter. Just 5-15 problems to make sure they get the hang of the activity. You might spice up your class by having an introduction activity that the kids do in pairs or small groups that is related to the topic for the day. For instance, if you are going to talk about ratios, you might have a few story problems where the students have to fill in a ratio table to find the answers. Then you can discuss strategies that they used to find the different ratios.

Thanks for all the great suggestions! I will try to see what I can incorporate. Part of my problem is that since I'm new, my department chair is having me assign the same homework as one of the other teachers, so I'm always trying to stay ahead of that. I feel like my class is dull, though, so I appreciate all the suggestions!