MAKE IT DAILY (center activities)

How do you incorporate math center activities? When I left the classroom a few years back to move to the school board, we were at a point in our district where they didn’t want us doing math centers.  They only wanted literacy centers… blah, blah, blah. Well… I’m a rule follower, I REALLY am – but when I don’t believe or I do believe in something, BELIEVE me… I will find a way around the system to make it work for my students.  I KNEW that math centers or math groups would help my students, so we incorporated them into our literacy centers.  We have since moved back to allowing for math centers or math groups so that students can investigate on their own or within small groups.

Today I’m going to continue talking about five ways to help your students MASTER THE STANDARDS.  Here’s a link back to the main page in case you just happened to stumble upon this blog post. I’ve been explaining what we do to make sure our kiddos are mastering our common core state standards since we have moved to a standards-based report card.  Today I’m going to talk about daily center practice using math task cards.


I cannot say it enough, kids need practice.  If we show them a strategy during application and then expect 100% of them to grasp that concept and fly, we are living in lala land (in my opinion).  Yes… you will definitely have a few kiddos who only need to see it once, but there are some seriously hard strategies that your students will need to see over and over again before they have mastered the skills.  Like… take from ten! Lordy… that one is a doozy!

Anyway – so to make sure your kiddos are getting daily practice, you need to find a way for them to practice skills taught during group or center time.  As we have already discussed, early finishers are a great way to make sure you are allowing time for students to master the standards. Having task cards available is also a perfect way to make sure your kiddos are mastering the standards.  So, it only adds to the pie when they can also use these items during centers. 

Back in the day, my students just went to centers and played.  I didn’t really have a way for them to check their work. It was a time for students to socialize, learn how to play nice, and I would just cross my fingers that they also learned a little bit along the way.  Well – fast forward ten years, and we better make sure that centers aren’t just for socializing (although I do believe that there’s a lot to say for students working things out on their own during centers) but I’m not the main man in charge.

Moving on… so now the center resources used all have some type of way for students ASSESS their knowledge.  Our centers consist of many different stations, from technology, to math games, to ELA games, to matching and puzzles, to writing centers and reading centers.  Today we are going to talk about some of our math centers.


So what is a digital task card, you ask?  Well… so glad you are wanting to know… Students scan a QR code (so you will need some type of device for students to scan the QR code – like an iPad, Chromebook, or computer with camera).  Once students scan the code, they are then given a slideshow that they can work through. They work the problems on their whiteboard (if need be) and then write their answers on a paper document.  Once they are done, there’s also a QR code that they can scan to check their work. It’s a lovely process, and the students absolutely love using the QR codes.


As for storage, I think the best way to “house” these are with binder rings.  For our Eureka NY resources, they can be grouped by module.  When using the Master the Standard QR code cards, you can bundle by standard.  This will make it much easier to keep track of the cards.  If you find another idea, please post in the comments.


We also have math games that students can play.  They can have 2-4 players. These are actually just task cards, but because they come with a game board, they are quickly turned into a fun center game. 

Here’s how these work:

  1. Students READ the directions
  2. They work out the math problem on the task card
  3. The other students check their answer with the answer key
  4. If they get it right, they go around the board
  5. If they don’t get it correct, students discuss why – but that student doesn’t move their cube on that turn.


I actually like to keep these in big zip lock baggies or in 8 1/2 x 11 envelopes.  That way the game board, game pieces, spinner and cards can all be in one place.  If you have other ideas, please leave in the comment below.  I’d love to hear from you!