Do you use mixed math practice regularly in your math classes?
I know time is of the essence in trying to get through all of the curriculum before the end of the year (and sometimes by state testing time), but there are several good reasons to pause and take some time for mixed review……frequently.
OR, find ways to incorporate review on a daily basis.
In this post, we’ll look at reasons to use mixed math practice, when to use mixed math practice, what types of resources you can use and how often you should incorporate mixed math practice.
5 REASONS TO USE MIXED MATH PRACTICE
There are many reasons to use mixed math practice, and we’ll highlight five of those reasons here.
1) Mastery: Students master math concepts through repeated practice. We know students don’t always ‘get it’ the first time they learn new concepts. Sometimes they just aren’t ready…maybe they need more math experiences before a particular concept makes sense to them.
- Coming back and reviewing gives them additional rounds of exposure and practice, leading to the “oh, now I get this!” moments and then to mastery.
2) Constant test prep: Reviewing concepts with mixed math practice is a way to be prepping for standardized tests throughout the school year. The more frequently students see a variety of problems, the more likely they’ll be to stop thinking they have to solve problems ‘the way they did it in class yesterday.’ And instead, tap into their flexibility with math and their problem solving skills.
3) Highlights areas each student has mastered, as well as the areas they are still uncertain about. Mixed practice can give you great data!
4) Gives a chance for problem solving: Whether there are word problems or just problems they aren’t sure of, students will need to make decisions about how to approach problems they haven’t been ‘trained’ to do in a certain way in recent math classes.
- Maybe they’ll need to access their notes or interactive notebooks and do a little bit of research to remember how to solve.
5) Time: Even though review can take more time during your day or week, I think it ultimately gives you time.
- Consistently reviewing can help save time when a new unit requires skills learned at the beginning of the school year (or even last school year). Reteaching time for those skills is reduced through review.
- Mixed math practice days can give you time to circulate, observe, and briefly work with students who are having difficulty in different areas.
WHEN TO USE MIXED MATH PRACTICE
As mentioned at the beginning of the post, it often seems nearly impossible to fit ALL of the curriculum into the days we have, much less use some of those precious days for review.
So try to think about where these days could fit into your schedule fairly naturally. For me, these days included:
1) Sub days: I’d have my mixed math practice color by number sheets or task cards ready as emergency sub plans.
I never knew if the sub would be a math teacher or not. Before using mixed math practice as sub plans, I’d write detailed plans for the math lesson and then often come back to confused students. SO, you can avoid that possibility with the mixed review.
- Yes, some students might have some trouble, but other students can help them and the sub can help them. They can also use their persistence and their research skills to try to figure out the answer. Or they can skip the problems they really can’t figure out, and you’ll have that data when you return.
2) Math centers: You could use one of your math centers as a review center, on a regular basis.
3) The days before holidays or breaks when you just finished a unit and don’t want to start a new one before the break.
4) Fast Finishers: You know those fast finishers need something to do. Why not give them review?
- Sometimes the fast finishers are those who are very good at math, but they need review too.
- For the fast finishers who still need practice on certain concepts, the mixed math practice is perfect for them!
WHAT TYPES OF RESOURCES FOR MIXED MATH PRACTICE?
There are many types of resources, but of course I have a few favorites.
1. Color by number activities: these give students the practice AND the quiet, mindfulness time that coloring provides.
I have several CBNs, for the different seasons (winter, fall, summer, Christmas, New Year’s, Valentine’s Day).
2. Task cards: I loved using my Footloose task cards because students could be moving and reviewing at the same time.
- That little bit of movement helped them stay engaged.
- I have a couple sets of mixed practice task cards, but
- I’d also take a few cards from my different sets and mix them together to create the mixed math practice for that session:-)
3. Mazes. I never used many of these, but they would be great for mixed practice.
I did create one for Valentine’s Day one year:-)
4. Using daily math dates: This is another one of my favorites, because it’s every day, I can throw in whatever skills I want (fractions, decimals, multiplication facts, exponents, etc) and it doesn’t take a lot of time.
You can read all about math dates in the math dates blog post!
HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU DO MIXED REVIEW?
As often as you can!
Maybe that’s not a great answer, but I’m a firm believer in the idea of constant review (and spiral review).
SO a few suggestions for frequency:
- After every unit
- Every time you do centers
- Before or after the holiday breaks
- Twice each marking period. Maybe you want to schedule these days into your planner to be sure you fit them in.
- On a daily basis with something like the math dates, if you can