Part 1: 12 Essential Components of a Math Focus Wall

In Part 1 of this series, I explained how I wanted to create a math focus wall for my classroom. I came up with 12 items that I think are necessary components of a math focus wall. Since I teach intermediate students, the math focus wall I am designing would look different than many of the primary math focus walls I have seen.

To set the scene, I have five bulletin boards at the back of my classroom. The SMART Board covers the bottom half of the middle bulletin board. I decided to spread out my math focus wall over the three centre bulletin boards. Since I want to incorporate several items into my math focus wall, I really needed the space to do it justice.

So after quite a bit of copying, cropping, and pasting, here’s my plan:

I’ve managed to include all the 12 items I had mentioned previously. These are the items that are ready to go:

- my SMART Board is at the centre and is ready to be incorporated into my math lessons
- on the left hand side, I have my math talk sentence starters…there are 52 sentence starters and I will be changing them on a regular basis. They will be used to help guide students during their math discussions (I will post a link to this new product of ours soon!)
- at the top left hand corner, the four posters help student decipher math word problems and determine which operation to use (I will post a link to this new product of ours soon!)
- on the right hand side, our GRASS posters help students to break down word problems. The white boxes along the poster set will show student solutions to problems we are working on…these will be changed on a regular basis as well
- along the top of the board you’ll find our posters “What does a good mathematician do?” to help students become mathematical thinkers and apply various skills when solving problems

The items shown in white on my plan will be co-created with or created by students:

- learning goals and success criteria will be co-created with students for each new lesson
- the white tiles next to the GRASS posters will contain student problem solving steps

I still need to work on the following items (the items shown in blue on my plan):

- make a sign for my math talk prompts
- find examples of math in everyday life
- find funny math comics
- an eye catching border and title
- work on key terms for each section (term: definition, diagram, examples)
- math reflection questions for their math journals
- challenge question of the week (University of Waterloo’s Problem of the Week and Math Circles are great resources for this)
- and math strategy posters (e.g. work backwards, draw a picture, solve a simpler problem)

Any other suggestions? Any areas for improvement?

Tune in for more updates on my math focus wall!