To say teenagers today are highly-visual is the understatement of the century - they don't even have telephone conversations without looking at the person and spend the majority of their day sending pictures back and forth to their friends - they need visual references that are aesthetically pleasing to look at it. I used to think that any class time used cutting, gluing, coloring, or decorating would be better spent doing another math problem. Then I let the kids actually start spending a little bit of my coveted 90 minutes just being creative, and the results have been amazing! The kids are more engaged in what they are doing, more excited about their notes and work, and have much better retention, but most importantly they are having FUN! Math class usually brings so much anxiety, that any time students say they enjoy my class, I count it as a win. It's a little sad to me that some students say they do more art in my class and in their actual art classes.

My favorite way to ignite their creative side is with these coloring activities. The picture at the top serves as their answer bank, so these are self-checking. Plus the "artist" gets to pick the color for each box - so each one is unique!

When we completed these doodle notes about Mean, Median, Mode and Range, students colored as they took notes and completed the example problems and then I gave them an extra two minutes to add some extra flair -think of it as adding a Snapchat filter ;). Students loved referring back to these notes in their interactive notebooks.

And the students had fun with these Quadratic Formula notes from Math Giraffe too.

Sometimes we will start the class off with a Warm-Up pennant (from Scaffolded Math and Science). I will hand them one of these problems as they walk in and they will solve it and decorate it. It allows me to check their work and do a quick scan of who will need extra help later in the class. Plus it starts things off "low key," and the kids are engaged from the beginning.

Sometimes I use these pennants as exit tickets too. Again giving me a check of who's got it and letting the kids leave the room with a sense of pride and accomplishment as they hang their pennant on the line. And did I mention how amazing my room looks with all this art work plastered up on the walls. Any visitor (and I get a lot of them) makes sure to point it out!

When I give a traditional exit ticket, and end up with a few extra minutes, I will sometimes have the students flip it over and write a reflection about the lesson. Sometimes I will have them draw a picture. On this one, I told the students to draw something they thought I would like. Can you tell that I eat a banana every day during this morning class?!

Or I will have the students draw how they feel after the lesson of the day. This really helps me to build relationships with my students because they will sometimes draw things that make great conversation starters.

Even just having the kids make a quick poster about what they learned or flipping over their worksheet and drawing something to summarize their feelings about the lesson has kept my students engaged and allowed them to use their right brain that is too often ignored in math class. Bring on the creativity! If nothing else, they may just draw something that brightens your day!