Helping Students See Their Strengths in Math

Well, it’s here.  The official turning point in the year when students and teachers (whether they admit it or not) turn their thoughts to summer.  That’s not to say that teachers are done teaching or students are done learning…but middle schoolers – especially 8th graders – come back from spring break ready for summer.

So i figured I’d share an end of year idea I had for my classes in case anyone reading this is thinking about those last days of school, too. 🙂

We’ve all had kids in our class that have shown tremendous growth over the course of the year.  We’ve all had kids who come in for extra help because they really want to understand.  Then there are the kids who are always helping their classmates who are confused, the ones who always pay attention in class, complete their homework, etc.

The problem I’ve always had is that for my school award ceremony I am required to pick 2 students from my math class to receive an award: one is the student with the highest average and the other is for a student who displayed great effort.  The issue is that there are often multiple students who I feel are deserving of the effort award but I’m only able to pick 1.

math awards pic3

This is such a common sense idea that I honestly don’t know how I haven’t thought to do this before…but I decided to do my own certificates in addition to the school awards.  This way I can recognize multiple deserving students.  In fact, I challenged myself to come up with a strength to recognize in each of my students so I can give every student an award.  I think that it is important for every student, especially the ones who believe that they are “bad at math”, to realize that they have potential, a skill, or talent, that can help them be successful in math.

I made awards for completing homework, participating in class, persisting in solving difficult problems, consistent effort, excellence in Algebraic thinking, outstanding critical thinking, excellence in graphing, good mental math skills, excellent overall achievement,…and many more (31 in all!).  I gave them all cute alliteration names, too, to make them more fun! 😉

math awards pic1

I want to show my students that I appreciate their hard work and effort. More importantly, though, I really hope this helps my students build confidence in their math skills and helps them see the strengths that I see in them.

If you like this idea but don’t want to make your own awards, you can purchase my math awards for $4 in my TpT store.  They are in editable PowerPoint form so you can type in names, and PDF form if you prefer to hand write the names.  I also included both color and black & white versions so there are options for everyone.   


Thanks for reading,

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