7 Hacks That Will Change Your Disrupted Math Class

Your kids are just settling in, or even better, they are finally settled after what felt like an eternity of pencil sharpening and are hard at work. And then...

Fire drill.
Health check.
Early release for snow.

And there goes everything! *tosses papers in air*

I used to try carrying on as usual, but this didn't work so well for me. My students get so focused on the schedule disruption that the same old same old just doesn't work. Still, I want to keep the math going! Below are some ways to keep students engaged on these disrupted days.

1: The game 4 Numbers
In this game, students are given 4 numbers that they need to make equal 24 with addition, subtraction, multiplication and/or division. Last year, my most disengaged Algebra 2 student was always the first to find a way to 24. 

2: The game Can You Make It?
This game is so cool! Students give you 6 one-digit numbers and 1 two-digit number (I call on one student at a time). The goal of the game is to use addition, subtraction, multiplication and/or division to combine the one-digit numbers to make the two-digit number. 

3: Math pennants
It's hard even keeping students in their seats on short-class days! Math pennants are a highly-engaging way to keep the math going and the class running as smoothly as possible on these disrupted days. You can find a few free math pennants in this Math Pennants post.

Free math pennants

4: Templates
If your students reeeeally could use another day of review on a short day, these templates work great. They are a quick way to hold students accountable and get the review they need. Here is one that works well in Algebra. 

Algebra template

5: Picture Systems
These always engage math teachers on Facebook! Actually, anyone who ever sees one seems to need to chime in-- including students! These picture systems are a great way to keep students engaged during short classes.

6: Which One Doesn't Belong?
These are fun activities that get students thinking. I especially like them because there often isn't one "right" answer, which leads to great conversations. My friend Jennifer at Smith Curriculum and Consulting wrote a great blog post on how WODBs work that you can read here. You can also find a bunch of WODB images here.

Which one doesn't belong? free images

7: Exit slips
If there are still 5 or so minutes left of class and kids are starting to get anxious to leave, exit ticket prompts are a great way to fill up those last few minutes. Linda from Teach 4 the Heart has written a great list of 10 exit ticket prompts here. And here is a free exit slip you can print a bunch of to use at the last minute.

exit ticket printable pdf

Exit tickets are great for disrupted classes and the last 5 minutes of any class, especially on days when students can't seem to sit still. 

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7 hacks that will change your disrupted math class


  1. Thanks I've used the Exit Slips and I've re-created the Algebra picture to fit for proportional and non-proportional Linear Relationships (7th Grade)... I love the 24 game I have one! and the picture math is my next venture! Love everything you have! Pictures of the word wall to come!

    1. Thank you Rosanna! Isn't the 24 game great? It's so cool how it works out (and I like to think about the person who figured out that it worked out!). We have a Facebook group called Visual Math if you'd like to join. Lots of good stuff is shared in there. https://www.facebook.com/groups/135807663706569