During my B.Ed practicum placements I picked up many teaching tools and ideas that have often come to my rescue when I needed to change things up in class. However, one tool that has been extremely helpful over and over is one that I first saw my associate teacher use in her class.
Whiteboards! Not only do kids love them, but they give the teacher a quick and easy way to measure how well the students understood the lesson. A class set of whiteboards and markers may not be readily available to you, but if you can convince your department to order some, you will never regret it! Lucky for me, my associate teacher had an extra set which she so kindly gave to me! After successfully using it in class several times, it was not very difficult to convince my principal to get me some new markers.
Personally, I have found them to be extreemly helpful in math, but I have used them in other subjects as well. Usually, I bring out the whiteboards after the students learn a new formula, idea or rule. I put a question on the board, give them some time to answer it, and before I know it, students start holding up their answers. A quick “Yes” or “No” either pushes them to try again, or put down their card satisfied with their work. after 5 or 6 questions, I find the student confidence go up, as well as the number of correct solutions. I have used these boards with grades 7, 9, 10 and 11 and I always got positive feedback from the students.
For the older grades, I recommend getting the whiteboards that have a grid on one side which can be quite handy for function sketching and transformations.
The only downside is how quickly the markers run out, especially when the students are constantly doodling.