Math Wheels for Note-taking?

Five Math Lessons to Help You Ace Your Teacher Observation


Today, I’ve got five math lessons to help you ace your upper elementary or middle school teacher observation!

Before we get into these math lessons, let’s think about how you normally plan for your teacher observations. 

  • Do you try to find a math lesson with all the ‘bells and whistles’ to attempt to knock your administrator’s socks off?
  • Or, do you stick to your normal math class routines so your observer gets a good look at what your math class typically looks like (and knock their socks off with a well-run classroom and academically engaging lesson)?
  • Or do you aim for something in between?

Teacher Observation Approach

Looking back at my early teaching days, I probably leaned more toward the ‘bells and whistles.’ This was likely because I felt I needed something ‘special’ for those days to show that I could really design a fun, engaging math lesson.

But as I became more confident in my abilities (teaching, facilitating, and managing the classroom), I tended more toward sticking with our routines, PLUS an engaging activity.

This way, classroom visitors could see that my math students knew how to come in to class, follow our warm-up routines, discuss math with each other, and be self-directed….no matter when the visitors dropped in.

And then visitors could also see how students interacted with the math lesson itself.

So, in this post, I’ll summarize and link to 5 math lessons I’ve used in both my ‘every day’ teaching and in my teacher observation lessons. 

Five Awesome Math Lessons for Teacher Observations

These five math lessons are some of my very favorites, over the course of my 24 years of teaching math, at several different grade levels (2nd, 4th, 5th, 6th).

1) Remove One Game ~ for Math Teacher Observation

This lesson uses a probability game to help students discover the chances of rolling certain numbers when rolling two dice and finding their sum.

It’s a great lesson to introduce or reinforce probability concepts. 

Remove One is also an excellent lesson for leading to a discussion of the probabilities as fractions, decimals, and percentages.

This game only requires paper, markers of some kind, and one pair of dice. 

All students participate with their own markers, keeping them all very much engaged and awaiting the next roll of the dice. 

Get all the details about this lesson in the Remove One blog post.

2) Ratios, Proportions, and Goldfish Math Lesson

This ratios and proportions lesson is a real-life application of tagging part of a population to then determine the approximate number of fish in an area.

Materials needed for this lesson include goldfish, paper bowls, large spoons and a recording sheet.

Students work in groups in this lesson, so if you want to show off some cooperative work, this is a great one!

Get all the lesson details in the Ratios and Proportions and Goldfish blog post.

3) The Factor Game ~ for Math Teacher Observation

An all-time favorite (mine AND students’), The Factor Game is an excellent lesson to help students practice with factors, while discovering how to use strategy in their game choices.

Materials for this lesson are simply paper and pencil/markers.

The Factor Game is a great lesson to show how you can lead students in a game that helps them think about strategy and how to think ahead, WHILE reinforcing their knowledge of factors and multiples. 

We know students struggle with factors when they’re trying to simplify fractions, factor expressions, and just divide numbers! 

So, this lesson is a fun, highly engaging way to practice with factors.

Learn how to play the game in the blog post, The Factor Game.

4) Problem Solving and Footloose for Teacher Observation

This combination of problem solving plus Footloose task cards can be used with ANY math topic. 

Have students solve problems collaboratively (after practicing during previous class periods) and then have them move on to using the Footloose task cards.

Although it’s a seemingly simple lesson, this combinations shows an observer how students can function in a group setting to solve word problems and how they can then move to a self-directed activity.

Read about how this went during one of my teaching observations in the Using Collaborative Problem Solving blog post.

5) Truth or Dare Math Game ~ for Teaching Observation

Truth or Dare is SUCH an engaging math game that you can use for just about any concept!

Students play in groups, so you can show off your group work routines.

Students can self-differentiate in this game, so your observer can see one way you incorporate differentiation.

The game also offers a chance for discussion, so an observer can see how you’ve helped students develop their discussion skills.

Materials needed for this lesson are the game cards, recording sheets and a pencil!

If you do choose to use Truth or Dare for an observation, I’d be sure to play it a time or two with other concepts so students are familiar with the game and its expectations.

Get all the math Truth or Dare details in this post.

Good luck with your teacher observations in math class!

Want More Tips for Teacher Observations?

For more tips for teacher observation time, listen in to the podcast episode, Surviving Evaluation Season!


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Welcome to Cognitive Cardio Math! I’m Ellie, a wife, mom, grandma, and dog ‘mom,’ and I’ve spent just about my whole life in school! With nearly 30 years in education, I’ve taught:

  • All subject areas in 4th and 5th grades
  • Math, ELA, and science in 6th grade (middle school)

I’ve been creating resources for teachers since 2012 and have worked in the elearning industry for about five years as well!

If you’re looking for ideas and resources to help you teach math (and a little ELA), I can help you out!



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