Teaching 6th grade can be amazing, but it can also be stressful to figure out how to engage 6th graders in their learning. The “too cool for school” mentality can run strong among some of them. When you plan your math classes for your sixth graders, you want to keep in mind where they are developmentally and their interests. This helps make the material more accessible for them, which engages them to do the work. I created math doodle wheels that can be used with different 6th grade math concepts. I hope after you read how math doodle wheels build on the characteristics of a sixth grader, you are inspired to use them in your classroom!
What are Math Doodle Wheels?
Say goodbye to traditional fill-in-the-blank notes or the quick scramble to write everything down from the board. Math doodle wheels are one-sided note pages that organize and chunk class notes on the target math concept. You and your students can refer back to these note pages all year for quick definitions, reminders, and mastery examples!
In the middle of the wheel, your students doodle and color in the math concept they are focusing on. This is the “title” of the math wheel and makes it very easy for students to refer back to later. With this bold title in the middle of the page, they can quickly find what they are looking for.
The other sections of the wheel focus on key vocabulary and the different steps and strategies that will follow for the specific math concept. In each section, students write down the main definition or step and then complete a couple of practice problems together with the teacher/class. This provides them with guided instruction but also mastery examples to return to throughout the unit.
After notes, students go back and review what they wrote. Then they add color to each section. They can color in the background, create fancy fonts, and draw little doodles to help them remember what they learned. The colorful doodles become memory triggers when they are applying the math skills throughout the unit or later in the year.
In my post, Using Doodle Wheel Graphic Organizers for Math and ELA, I dive deeper into the reasons why I chose to make the switch from traditional interactive notebook pieces to the math doodle wheels.
Why Should I Use Math Doodle Wheels in 6th Grade Math?
As 5th graders transition into 6th grade, you are going to see several shifts in their characteristics as learners. There will be a new air about them in the form of newfound confidence and independence! This encourages them to make their own decisions and to take on more ownership in the learning process. This leads to wanting to explore topics or concepts deeper after discovering the foundation of them.
Social Time with Math Doodle Wheels!
A big characteristic of 6th graders is the social aspect. They want to do anything and everything with their friends! All of a sudden one-person jobs become 2 or 3 person jobs, and the buddy system is an oath that should never be broken…even on a trip to the drinking fountain!
We might want to pull our hair out because of this, but we can use this to our advantage. Math doodle wheels can easily become collaborative with a partner or in small groups. This is a great way to keep students engaged but also let them help each other.
Critical and Abstract Thinking Strengthens
The critical thinking and abstract thinking skills of 6th grade students become stronger as well. This allows them to analyze problems, make connections between different skills, and apply math concepts to real-world situations.
Math doodle wheels also connect to different learners, whether they are auditory, visual, or verbal-linguistic learners. Students can listen to the instruction, draw doodles (visuals) to help them remember the information, and write down the key details.
Fostering Social-Emotional Needs
Incorporating math doodle wheels in your 6th grade math classroom helps you to create a safe environment for your students’ social-emotional needs. We were all in middle school at some point. As a result, we know firsthand the raging emotions and the rollercoaster those years can be. Add on the stress or nerves that come with academics; students can truly dread school. Having an opportunity in your class to approach math concepts in a simple and creative way helps your students relax. When students relax, they can absorb and take risks in their learning.
Makes Math Relatable
Finally, identity is so important to students at this age. They are trying to figure out who they are, and they are making connections between what they are learning and everyday life. Being able to connect math concepts to their life makes them more relatable and will also create higher engagement. Math doodle wheels help students personalize their learning through the doodles and color they add to their notes. It’s important to stress to them that one image might be helpful for one of them. However, that same image may not help another classmate.
How Can I Use Math Doodle Wheels in 6th Grade Math?
Math doodle wheels are flexible, which gives you freedom on how to best implement them in your classroom. When first introducing math doodle wheels to your class, I recommend completing it all together as a group. You can do this through small group or whole class instruction. This way, you can set the expectations for how the math doodle wheel is completed and can explain the “why” behind creating them for your students. Your students will have mastery examples to refer back to throughout the unit and year.
As the year progresses, you can use the completed math doodle wheels in different ways that allow your students to take on ownership, such as:
- Creating their own study guides or reviews for upcoming assessments.
- Becoming the “teacher” and creating their own notes for their group or class to fill out.
- Design a year-at-a-glance where each section represents each of the studied units from the year in preparation for end of the year testing
- As a tool for an open notes review or assessment
How Do I Get My 6th Grade Math Classes Started?
Now that you have read how the math doodle wheels build on the characteristics of a 6th grade learner, let me show you how you can start using these in your classroom! In my 6th Grade Math Doodle Wheel Bundle, you will have access to math wheels for 20 different math concepts! Math concepts included are:
- Absolute Value
- Algebraic Expressions
- Box-and-whisker Plots
- Coordinate Plane
- Dividing Decimals
- Dividing Fractions (2 wheels)
- Equivalent Expressions
- Finding GCF and LCM
- Graphing Inequalities
- Mean Absolute Deviation
- Multiplying Decimals
- One-step Algebraic Equations
- One-step Inequalities
- Order of Operations (2 wheels)
- Proportions and Unit Rates (2 wheels)
- Ratios and Rates
- Surface Area
Everything you need to get started with the math wheels in your 6th grade math classroom is provided for you in the bundle. For each topic, you will receive a math wheel that lays out key vocabulary and the strategy for the target math concept. A key is provided for each one for you to refer to if needed, as well as a colored sample. Additionally, there is an editable PowerPoint file with a blank wheel that you can use to create your own math wheel to align with your lesson.
Your students will be taking efficient notes while creating memory triggers for themselves for the steps. They will also be able to complete practice problems for each section to refer back to. Not only is it a great lesson and guided practice tool, but while they are taking notes they are creating a study tool to keep all year in their binders or notebooks.
Try Out Wheels for Free
Math wheels can be used in your 6th grade math class with your whole class, in small groups, or centers. Want to test the waters to see if math doodle wheels are a good fit for you and your students? When you sign up for these free math wheels, you will receive a Fraction Operations wheel to review all operations with your students. You will also receive 3 blank wheel templates to create your own math doodle wheels about whichever topics you want!
Save these 6th Grade Math Notes!
Remember to save this post to your favorite math or teacher Pinterest board to return to when you are ready to take these math wheels for a spin in your classroom with your 6th graders!