Math classroom decoration ideas

I've written a lot about math classroom decor, but I didn't always have my classroom walls covered. It wasn't until years after starting teaching that I hung my first anchor chart. 

Since then, I have come to believe 100% in math word walls for building vocabulary, background knowledge and student confidence. And when a student needs a reminder of past material or that he or she CAN do it, it's so much easier to point to a wall reference than to stop class.

Displaying Student Work on "The Fridge" wall of student math success

In this post I wanted to show you some of the decor that has hung in my math classroom over the years. It's all either functional or self-esteem-building.

That first photo above is a bulletin board we call "The Fridge". It's where students hang their graded papers that make them feel proud. Most of the time even my juniors and seniors would rather hang their papers than bring them home. (There are some free THE FRIDGE letters linked here if you would like to add a fridge to your classroom.)

High School Math Word Wall Ideas

This is a part of our math word wall that is a total hodgepodge in this photo! I've since updated some parts. You can see more of my classroom word walls in the post High School Math Word Wall Ideas.

Geometry word wall | parallel lines cut by a transversal

For a couple years I taught Geometry and the anchor charts above became part of our Geometry word wall. The parallel lines cut by a transversal poster on the bottom faded over time. It's made from cut paper and the fluorescent lights did a number on it. 

Parallel Lines Cut by a Transversal Poster and Coloring Page

A couple years later when teaching a study skills class to sophomores, many of them were struggling with angle pairs in their Geometry classes. So this parallel lines cut by a transversal poster was for them. It's a good replacement for the fading cut-paper poster. Students can either use it in their notebooks as a reference or it can be enlarged for the wall. 

Algebra 1 word wall | slope and linear equations | exponent rules

Even though I haven't officially taught Algebra 1 in years, re-teaching and reviewing Algebra 1 topics in Algebra 2 is always needed. This is another hodgepodge word wall. 

It soon became clear that just having the slope formula and y=mx+b weren't enough. I found myself drawing linear graphs on the board so much to link our Algebra 2 concepts back to Algebra 1 that I needed a better Algebra 1 word wall. So that summer came an updated version that worked much better for my students.

Algebra 1 word wall | linear equations

This linear equations reference is so simple but it has been so useful. When I introduce initial height in quadratic word problems I can easily link back to y-intercept at time 0. And when we learn about zeros. I can quickly show that the y values should be 0 when an object is back on the ground. 

"We are all math people!" Growth mindset poster

This "We are all math people" poster is one I made recently, and if I wasn't on a leave of absence from teaching to be home with our daughter, it would already be hanging on my classroom wall. 

Back to School pennant: A Math GLYPH

I love classroom decor that is functional and that makes a classroom an inviting and low-stress place to learn. Knowing the references are always there for them encourages my students to take risks and independently seek help when they get stuck.

How do you like to decorate your walls? If you're part of the Visual Math Facebook group, I'd love for you to post your photos!

Scaffolded Math and Science top blog posts

"We are all math people!" Growth mindset poster

If you've ever figured out how much a shirt cost from the 30% off rack, you are a math person.

If you've ever estimated how much water you drank in a day, you are a math person.

If you've ever made any sort of budget of any kind, you are a math person.

If you've ever calculated exactly what time you'd need to get out of bed to still get to work on time, you are a math person.

We are all math people! 

"We are all math people!" Growth mindset poster

Something happened when I hit middle school and math stopped being easy. My self-esteem took a hit, which was furthered by the disappointed look on my dad's face as he helped me with my homework. I didn't get it. It was really hard and abstract and weird. My little concrete brain wasn't ready for the impact of conceptual math and my whole world was rocked. 

Fast forward to a few years into my teaching career when the 5-year-you-better-have-at-least-started-your-Master's-degree-program-it-you-want-to-continue-being-a-Massachusetts-public-school-teacher deadline was looming and a Master's in Biology was going to be too expensive. I enrolled in - of all things - a math graduate program, never expecting it to become anything more than the required check in a box.

My health - both psychological and physical - took a major hit as I went through those 5 years teaching full-time during the day and having my rear end handed to me at night in these math classes. As every problem set and extra help session ate more and more into my sleep, there were times I questioned if it was worth it. But I had the luxury of not having another option. Sometimes those "life ultimatums" are blessings in disguise.

5 years later, I did it. I graduated. And as it turns out, I am a math person. We are all math people. My biggest takeaway from those years was a new, firsthand knowledge of how my struggling learners feel. I didn't feel like a "math person" in graduate school, but I did it. And so can my students. 

I love decorating my math classroom. There are more photos of the math references that hang on my wall in the post Math classroom decoration ideas.

Math classroom decoration ideas

I put that "We Are All Math People" graphic on Facebook and Instagram to a strong response so I decided to turn it into a downloadable poster, which you can find for free here. It serves as a reminder that we are ALL math people!

Scaffolded Math and Science top blog posts

Teaching Volume and Surface Area with Interactive Materials

What's your topic that finally clicked as an adult and left you wondering how the heck you ever got through all those years of math? I have a few. One of those for me is how surface area and volume relate. 

It's super cool that the surface area of a sphere is the derivative of its volume, but I'm not even talking anything this serious here. I'm talking cones and cylinders.

Can We Really Teach Number Sense?

In 2013, NPR published "Scientists Put a 'Sixth Sense' For Numbers on Brain Map". The article summarized scientists' findings on a region of the brain responsible for our ability to estimate quantities.  

Quantities of pencils on the floor, quantities of tiles on the ceiling, quantities of flowers in a vase. Without counting, how close can you get to estimating the correct number of objects you see?

Leading the study was Ben Harvey who was quoted as saying, "The better you are at number sensing, the better you seem to do on standardized mathematical tests."