Tuesday, June 30, 2020

5 Ways to use Mini Erasers in the Middle School Classroom

If you've been a teacher in the last three years, especially if you are on Instagram, you've probably seen images of these adorable little things.


Target Mini Erasers!

I love them with all of my teacher heart, and I've used them for so many activities as an elementary teacher. When I accepted a position teaching middle school for this fall, I was worried that my beloved collection wouldn't be as loved in upper grades. So I did what any self-respecting millennial teacher would do... I asked my Instagram audience for advice!

And my goodness, I'm so glad I did!

I had over fifty amazing educators reach out with some of the greatest ideas for ways I could incorporate my collection into my new grade level.  Everything from rewards to writing prompts! I've rounded up my top five ideas to share with you here.

1. Teaching Probability
Since I'm used to teaching math with mini erasers for counting, it is a pretty easy jump to make to use them to teach math at a higher grade level. Several teachers suggested this idea, and I'm loving it! To teach probability using mini erasers, you will need several mini erasers in varying themes. Students will determine the probability of choosing one type of eraser over another.




2.  Talking Chips
And I don't mean potatoes. The teacher who suggested this one says, "I like to use 'talking chips' where, in groups, each student has three erasers and needs to contribute ideas or ask questions three times. Once the entire group has put down all the erasers, they can pick theirs back up and start again." I like this idea because it encourages reluctant contributors to add to conversations and limits some of the excess talking from some of the chattier kiddos. This would also be a great way to encourage greater paragraph length. Give students five mini erasers to help them remember to write at least five sentences to expand their paragraphs and include more information on a topic. Or if they're writing a paper, one mini eraser per paragraph! Mini erasers as visuals are always a hit!



3. Classroom Currency
Amid the ideas sent to me was a whole slew of messages from teachers telling me to USE THEM AS REWARDS! I didn't necessarily think 6th graders would be thrilled with small rewards like that, but the vast majority of veteran middle school teachers told me otherwise. One idea which I LOVED was to use them as classroom currency! When students are exhibiting on task behavior... when students go above and beyond... when students need a little boost... they can get an eraser. A certain number of erasers can be turned in (like currency) in exchange for different rewards: a homework pass, bonus points, free time on the computer... whatever you think will motivate your students.



4. Teaching Variables
I remember being in grade school and finding out that our teacher was going to start putting LETTERS in our MATH PROBLEMS! What the WHAT, y'all?? Instant panic. And I'm sure students likely still feel that way. A teacher sent me a message suggesting that mini erasers take the place of variables in the problems. Imagine instead of a giant letter X staring you in the face, you get a cute, unassuming, non-threatening pizza shaped mini eraser. Pizza makes everything better, right? Plus, combine the mini erasers with some base ten blocks, and you've got a GREAT hands-on math problem to reinforce the idea.



5. Creative Writing
When I read this idea, I instantly got excited. The message read, "Honestly, my favorite usage is for writing. I put 3-5 in a mystery bag. Students choose a bag and incorporate what they got into their writing." Ummm, that is mind blowing and seriously one of the most fun uses for these erasers that I have ever come across. The story possibilities are endless, and with holiday-themed erasers, this would be fun for a seasonal writing activity, too! It would be easy to differentiate: similar erasers (all food, all summer-themed, etc) for less of a challenge or really mix and match them (an avocado, a santa, and a star) for some out-of-the-box story ideas. Their imaginations will run wild!



I'm thrilled to be in this new position, and equally as thrilled that I get to keep using my mini eraser collection in my middle school classroom. Any other ideas? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks for reading!



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