Next year, our middle school is switching from 42 minute class periods to 55 mins each. For all 10 years of my teaching career, I've been planning for 42 minutes - this will be a big change for me! 13 additional minutes may not seem like a lot, but these are 8th graders we're talking about! Last year, I introduced "math labs" - about twice a month, which the kids seemed to like. I incorporated some hands-on activities, and I switched lab groups every month. (Roller coaster math, a dream-house design activity...those were their favorites.) If more labs are incorporated I will definitely need some more ideas for activities (pre-algebra and algebra stuff.) I teach pre-algebra and geometry to 8th graders. The extra time in geom doesn't concern me as much, because it's an advanced class and they always had questions when we worked on proofs. There were many things I would have liked to do with them but we never seemed to have enough time. However... with the pre-algebra kids I don't want to introduce too many new topics in one day. But I want them busy, busy, busy, with a variety of things in math class. I don't like to do direct note-taking instruction for more than 15-20 minutes - they are 8th graders, for crying out loud! Mixing things up has always worked for me. So please help me with my mixing! Thanks in advance for any suggestions!

Wow only 42 minutes. I remember my middle school I believe was always 55 minute long classes. The math classes were basically set up with like you said 15-25 minutes of instruction and note taking. The rest of class was for students to work on the assignment for the day.

My classes have always been 50 minutes long. (I don't know yet how long my classes will be at my new school). My last school did Everyday Math and they had a 60 minute block. I know the book was set up with math boxes (which were review) and lots of games. Perhaps the extra time can be used for review at the beginning or end of the class. You can use dry erase boards, tossing a ball, etc... to make it fun.

I'm going in the opposite direction -- we are going from 54 and 55 minute classes to about 45 minutes, and I am wondering how to cut that time!!! Practice math fact fluency? I like ecochick's suggestions of test prep problems and logic problems.

What about having your math students do quick writes at the end of class? Assign a writing prompt and give them five minutes to write about the prompt, reflect on their learning for the day/week, ask questions, etc. The catch is, they have to write for five mintues straight- no exceptions! If they can't think of what to write next, have them repeat the last few words or the last sentence they wrote over and over until they think of what to write next (even the most reluctant writers will not want to get stuck doing this for long, they'll think of something else to write!) Then, collect all students' quick writes and read them out loud anonymously. My 7th and 8th graders love this. It's a great way to incorporate literacy into math. You wouldn't have to do this every day, but it's an idea to fill the extra time.

Thanks for the great ideas! I will probably open with 10 minutes of test-prep (for their bell work.) They can always use more of that. And the writing prompt at the end of the period is wonderful, I'll definitely try it. Our first day is next Wed so I'm just about ready!

When all else fails, drill times tables, perfect squares and perfect cubes until they can't do any more. When they hit factoring, they'll come back and thank you.

I have always had 57 minute periods and it's not as bad as you might think. I would definately hit them up with bellwork which after they complete it, they can work with a partner to check work. You wouldn't want to introduce multiple concepts unless things are really intertwined and related. But plan your lesson to include some more partnering, small group, etc. There are days that you have a lot of information and you will be happy you have 13 more minutes. Another idea is if the stucture you had in place was working, then the last 13 minutes would be starting the homework, a few more problems, a quick game. You have more possibilities than you think.