Math Wall of Shame (80+ printable pics)

In many posts I’ve talked about one of my main goals as a math teachers is to find ways to get all students taking about mathematics everyday in my classroom.  3 years ago when I returned to teaching I put up a bulletin board that is the only one I’ve ever made that people actually looked at over and over again.  I say ‘people’ intentionally.  It was not just students talking it was almost every other staff member, parent or visitor to my classroom. People would look at it, keep looking and ultimately engage me in conversation about it.  Students would sit in front of it and discuss, compare, argue and choose their favorite.

If you are like me and you only put upwall of shame at most one bulletin board per classroom you are in (not one per year, one per classroom) and never change it, then this bulletin board idea is great for you.  Here is a pic of my old board.  I changed school this year so my new one is posted in a private hallway into my classroom.  It is a great location because students hang out here before and after class.  LOTS OF DISCUSSION.  I highly recommend it.  All you need to do is print out the 2 attachments located below.  I’ve laminated the pictures, but you don’t need to.  I have over 80 pictures to choose from.  I post between 10-20 at a time.  Here are just a few to wet your whistle:


I have always been annoyed by Nisson’s CUBE car.  I mean really, it is not a cube.  Maybe a rectangular prism, but certainly NOTcube car a cube.  One day I took a picture of one I was parked next to and posted it in my cubicle at work (which was also not a CUBE).  Coworkers at the district offices would ask me if it was my car and I would say ‘NO!’ and tell them I really dislike the car.  When they asked why I would say “I’m a math teacher, why do you think?”  We had good conversations about precise mathematical language.


This is one that Dan Meyer tweeted out today.  Love it.

circum dan tweet

0.99 CENTS

I have lots of pictures that are some 99 cents centsversion of using both the decimal point and the ¢ cent symbol.  I often post them all in a collection.  There is a math teacher in my district that when he sees something priced this way at a store he walks up to the counter and says “Here is a penny, keep the change.”  I keep hoping I am daring enough to do this someday.  (I still have too much MN nice in me).


cinnamon rollI also have a lot of pictures that are proportional reasoning fails.  Most from stores where it may or may not be a typo.  These are GREAT for students.  We can never have enough things for them to talk about proportional reasoning.  The one posted to the left was posted by my friend Renee on facebook today. The comments from her friends were great.  Here is just one comment.cinnamon roll facebook comments


I also have tons of fails in graphs.  Here are two from NPR and Fox News (note: I try and find stuff from lots of news stations so I don’t give away my political leanings and pick on only a couple of stations).

npr graphfox graph


I can't mathI am not sure I am happy about the fact that this is the one they talk about the most – but what I will say is it quickly reveals to me someones fears and beliefs about their own math ability and that is powerful information to have.  Also – if you are a math teacher you’ve been asked  a thousand times to calculate the tip for your friends so this needs to be represented somehow on the Math Wall of Shame.  I always follow up any discussion people start with this one with the question “What should the tip be to give a total of $47.oo?”  I have a  Number Talk in in my classroom to use anytime I want.


Here is one Vi Hart recently tweeted out.  I find most my new ones from twitter.  Thanks to everyone who tweets out math fails.

vi hart math fail with wikipedia


mcdonalds cu[

2015 had lots of great math fails.  Here is just one from our friends at McDonalds.  Some people get all up in arms about Starbucks Holiday cups – not me.  I get super excited when an organization that my students see all the time makes a math fail.  I not only use these pictutes on my Math Wall of Shame – but I also use them one at a time as a warm up in my classroom.  I put a picture up and ask “What do you notice?”.  I used this one when I was going to start graphing inequalities.  This picture got more students talking about what the symbol meant than any equation or inequality I could have posted….AND that is my goal – to get students talking.

I tweeted out a link to these pictures a year and a half ago (the link has since been taken down due to me changing schools) and many saw it since Dan Meyer retweeted the link.  I’ve received a ton of feedback on it.  I reguarlary get asked to repost the word docs with all the pics.  So, here they are again, with about 20 additional pics from the last time I posted these.



Do you have something to add to the math wall of shame?  Tweet me @saravdwerf, email me at sarav@mpls.k12.mn.us or post using hashtag #mathwallofshame. I would love to add more to my collection.

Are you looking for other classroom displays?  Check out these two posts that each contain many, many other options….


Sara VanDerWerf

I am Sara Van Der Werf, a 24-year mathematics teacher in Minneapolis Public Schools. I have taught math in grades 7-12 as well as spent several years leading mathematics at the district office. I currently teach Advanced Algebra at South High School and I'm also the current President of the Minnesota Council of Teachers of Mathematics (MCTM). I am passionate about encouraging and connecting with mathematics teachers. I'd love to connect via twitter.  Join the community.  Tweet me @saravdwerf.

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