Thursday, May 3, 2012

An Easy Group Game Format

When I was in grad school I learned a fun/easy math game format (from one of the best math ed professors ever!). I was reminded of this today as I brainstormed ways to review DEATHLY BORING algebra concepts for the upcoming end-of-year exams.

Step 1 (Pre-class prep): Generate two lists of numbers.
List A: 10, 14, 3, 20, 9
List B: 6, 5, 8, 12, 33, 7

Step 2 (Still pre-class prep): Make a 4-by-4 grid of numbers on a poster:
Step 3 (When the kiddies arrive): Divide up the class into two teams. The game is basic Tic-Tac-Toe (4 in a row wins), and the teams alternate turns, but in order to "win" a space during their turn, the group has to correctly make a math statement combining an element from List A with another from List B. You can customize the type of mathematical statement to the content you are currently learning/reviewing. For example, using the lists and the grid above with 6th-graders, a kid might say: "The Least Common Multiple of 9 (from List A) and 33 (from List B) is 99." In saying so, their team gets to put down their marker on the space in the grid where 99 is.

As you can see, the content is very customizable. As I shared with another teacher today, you can easily alter the content to review conversion from fractions to percents and decimals, for instance. (List A: numerators; List B: denominators...) Same goes for integer operations.

I am going to try using this to review DEATHLY BORING algebra "expansion" skills in Grade 7, along with modified Bingo* and other games I manage to think up. What types of fun things do you have up your sleeves for reviewing at the end of the year?

*We did algebra Bingo today for expanding/simplifying and then I spontaneously decided to modify it. Since kids are always trying to influence the next numbers being called during Bingo, I periodically put up "challenge" problems on the board and said that the first kid to correctly (raise their hand and) expand and simplify everything gets to CHOOSE the next Bingo number. The crowd went wild for this! The good news: Everybody was trying those challenge problems. The bad news: My 7th-graders really still need to practice expanding expressions like 0.5(x - 10)^2 and -0.5(x - 8)^2. Eeesh.


  1. You (and your students) might like Risk.

  2. I like the adaptability of your Tic-tac-toe here, thank you! We normally play Jeopardy for end-of-unit reviews, I create them as PowerPoint slides, with music and all :) Thanks to Sue also for the Risk game!

  3. Thanks, Sue! Lovely! I've seen it before but forgot about this. Thanks for the reminder, and I'll let you know if it works out well for me. :)

    @Fawn: We did the tic tac toe today with binomial multiplication. The kids WENT WILD for this, because I put the products on a separate list (they were too big to fit into the boxes in the grid) and everytime someone on a team messed up, the other team got to TAKE OFF one of their markers from the team. So it was like tic-tac-toe with offense and defense. Hilarious and the kids were wildly entertained. OMG.

  4. Have you ever heard of an activity called "question is, answer is"? it's a nice review activity that helps kids to work on review problems at their own pace. it's kind of like a treasure hunt.

    on an 8.5/11 piece of paper, there is an answer to a problem at the top, and an answer at the bottom. the problem and answer have nothing to do with each other (although they are on the same paper). these papers are each identified by a LETTER at the top and posted around the classroom. students start at whatever problem they wish. they look first at the problem, solve it, arrive at a solution. they must look for the solution to their problem that is written on a different sheet of paper around the room. once they find it, they write the letter of the next problem (that is at the bottom of that piece of paper) then solve the problem, find the solution, and look for that solution that is posted around the room on another sheet of paper.

    students can work in pairs. it's nice bc those kids that need more time can work at their own pace, while those kids that can get through lots of problems have plenty of practice.

    another great thing is that as kids are practicing you can really help small groups of students and straighten out a lot of their misconceptions!