The passing notes activity can be used in math class as well either with word problems, math vocabulary or introducing a concept as a formative assessment activity. Check out this classroom video on Teaching Channel.
Great tips for those long direct instruction lessons. Using components of the Common Instructional Framework like Writing to Learn and Classroom Talk, here are easy ways to make direct instruction lessons more engaging.
If student can bring in a fact and show where they read it (any non-fiction resource, print or digital) put it up on the "Did You Know?" board for the day with their name - great idea to get kids reading nonfiction
Love all of this guy& Interactive Notebook Ideas. Love this idea- print questions for a story on a vertical strip. Students glue in Notebooks and answer questions in complete sentences to the side. The Middle School Mouth: Interactive Notebooks - Again