Test Review

So I took another idea from Sarah over at Math = Love and used her review game.  The kids each got a worksheet with 8 problems from our test tomorrow.  All of the answers were given, except that some of them were incorrect.  In groups, students had to solve each problem, and decide if I had the correct or incorrect answer.  When they finished the problems, they had to decide how much money they would be willing to bet that they had the correct answer and could tell me if my answer was correct or incorrect.

Then the auction began!  This part was so much fun.  I, of course, clearly explained the rules before hand, but shockingly enough- some students missed the key parts.  Those who understood how you could win did much better with the auction.

So each group got $1000 to spend.  The group who purchased the most correct answers by the end of the auction won the game.  BUT if there was a tie the group with the most money left over won.

Clearly one group understood the rules in my first hour.  They spent $300 early, then kept watch of the clock and when we were near the end of our time, jumped in with a sudden $700 bet and won the game with 2 purchased answers.

Others, however, did not understand the logic.  One round was going as predicted, and a group jumped in with a $999 bet.  While they won that round, they clearly didn’t win any other rounds, nor did they have the most money left in the end.

I loved it because it involved the logic of placing their bets without them even knowing that they were doing math!

As an aside, thanks for all the well wishes for the babies!  I will assume from my level of sickness that they are thriving in there… or else they are pretty mad at me.  But it is totally worth it in the end!


#myFavFriday- Sticks

Wow, it feels good to blog again!  I have been so busy this week and have really missed writing this blog and reading everyone else’s.

My school doesn’t have bussing, so all of the kids stand by grade level along the curb and their parents pick them up (families stand together).  It is actually a much faster process than it sounds because we have it down to a science.  Today at the curb, one of my kids came up to me, held out his two index fingers, and said, “Do you want to play sticks?”  I just stared at him like he was insane.  Then another student ran up and said, “STICKS!  I’ll play!!”  and held out his two index fingers as well.  Suddenly they were hitting each other’s fingers, bumping their fingers together, putting fingers up and down, and groaning and cheering while I stood there completely clueless.  Within a few seconds we had a crowd around us with several groups playing sticks.  Maybe you are all reading this thinking that I am completely clueless and how did I survive my childhood without playing this game, but for the rest of you- here is what the kids taught me.

You both start with two fingers out, one on each hand.  One person hits their one finger on the other person’s one finger.  One finger plus one finger equals two fingers that person two should now have up on that hand.  Then person two goes.  He can hit his two fingers on the one hand or the one finger on the other hand to combine with player one’s fingers to make player one now have two or three fingers up, depending on the move player two makes.  I am doing my best to explain this game, but man it sounds complicated!  You can always split your fingers that are up onto two hands or combine them to one hand.  When the other player hits your hands to make five, you have to put that hand down until you want to use it again to split your fingers.  When both of your hands are down, you loose the game.

The point is this: suddenly I had a whole group of students, figuring out ways to make groups of 5, add and subtract numbers so quickly I couldn’t follow wht was happening, split different numbers using many strategies in order to prevent the other player from making a group of five… and eveyone was cheering and totally into it!  It was so fun!  At one point, I had two students slow down and walk me through the game so I could learn the rules.  One student made a move and I stopped him and asked why he would do that.  He looked at me and simply said, “I’m a master at this game.  This is one of my tricks.”  I could practically hear the “duh” coming out of his mouth.  So awesome!

They did manage to convince me that they had invented this game years ago, but I was able to find some information online.  It appears to more commonly be called chopsticks.  Either way, it was a great way to end our Friday!

Wikipedia Link

You Tube Video

Order of Operations Game

I read about this amazing game over on Writing to Learn to Teach this summer.  It looked awesome so I made my own set for each group of kids in my room.  I planned on using it near the beginning of last week, but my timing has been so off this year and I didn’t get to the game until today.  I also was very jealous of the several other teachers who posted that they had played this game last week, so by today I was very ready to have the kids play.  And wow!  It went so well!  I do want to point out that when I went to this blog today, I noticed an update with the printable files and I definitely recommend doing this as you will soon see why in my pictures.

20120924-104232.jpg Notice the unusually large operation signs as compared to the numbers.  A little tip for the future- if you plan on doing any sort of activity like this, please check the sizes of things before you copy, laminate, and cut out all of the pieces 🙂  Just wait until you see the exponents.




We started without parentheses or exponents, then added in one at a time.  This student had been begging me all morning to use his hands in a picture.  Now he is famous.

 The good news is that apparently I didn’t take any pictures while they were using the exponents, so you can’t see how ridiculously large they are.

I hope we will have more time to play this again tomorrow.  It is also going to be a great one when I need a quick time filler!

Order of Operations

For the order of operations, we are starting with this foldable:

20120918-105356.jpg      20120918-105449.jpg

Our school is pushing cross curricular writing assignments this year.  So, I am also having the kids do a paper for the first time.  They will be explaining why we use the order of operations and then explaining the steps.    So I will grade the math content and then pass the papers on to our language arts teacher who will grade the writing.  I found this awesome page to use for a graphic organizer.

The kids also did a matching activity cause I just can’t resist them.  The were given the original expression and then a page will each line of the work to show along with a list of the PEMDAS steps.   They had to figure out what step would go next and the reasoning.


I am obsessed with these kind of activies these days.  They get the kids talking and working with all of the pieces like  puzzle and they have to prove what they know so much more than if they were just copying down examples.

Then tomorrow we will do some problems on white boards and also play this game.  I am so excited for the game because I have been hearing about it going really well from twitter friends!

The one thing I am struggling with is the off task talking and behavior during the group activities.  I love doing them so much more than what I used to do, but I am facing a new set of problems that I haven’t had before.  I have tried group points, individual rewards, whole class points, if they don’t finish- it is their homework… and nothing seems to make a huge difference.  I am now going to try putting 3 little post it flags on their desks, and if they are off topic or wasting time I will take one away.  If you loose them all you get a planner signature, if you keep them all you get a reward ticket for our drawing.  Hopefully I will report good things!  If you have ideas that have worked for you, please let me know!!

#msSunFun- Math Games


This week’s #msSunFun is math games.  I have 2 go to games that we play often, but I am excited to hear about others. 

#1: 24

I actually have a set of these cards that I played at home when I was little, but even without the cards, this game is easy to play.  Give the students 4 numbers and they have to add, subtract, multiply, or divide to get to the number 24.  I usually do first with the answer wins.  It is awesome when class ends and we don’t have an answer and they ask me for the answer.  I always tell them, I don’t have the answer key!  I am working through the problem with you.  Sometimes I see the answer right away and sometimes I need to work a little harder.  Even if I see the answer, I never tell them and always have a student or two who come back between classes later in the day and say, “I got it!  I got it!”  The problem I have with this game is that there are often one or two kids who are very good at fast calculations, so their hands are the first up every time.  Then other students tend to give up.  So I usually say you can only win 3 times, then you are out. 

#2: The Dice Game

Each student needs a piece of scrap paper.  Everyone stands up, I roll 2 dice.  We multiply the 2 numbers on the dice to get a score.   If anyone thinks that that number is the best score they can get, they write that number down on their paper under round 1 and sit down.  They are finished for the round.  Then you roll again, multiply, but add that total to the previous one.  Again, if  you think this is the best score you can get, write it down and sit down.  Continue.  The trick is that at any point that a 2 shows on either die, anyone still standing earns a 0 for that round.  Then the round is over and you start completely over with everyone standing up for round 2.  Play as long as you want and at the end of the game, everyone adds up their total.  Highest total wins.