#MTBoS30 Day 16: Easy Peasy Differentiation

Julie Morgan posted as part of #MTBoS about Challenge Grids about a week ago and as a second year teacher currently teaching all collaborative classes I soaked the idea right up. It was crazy easy to create (I mean, all you do is take a worksheet with a bunch of “boring problems”) and it saved a lot of paper (which is something I’m really trying hard to stop wasting).

As a class we worked through one problem, solving by factoring and using the quadratic formula and checking the answer by graphing. Students were at their desks with dry erase markers and worked on these problems on their desks. I walked around and would answer questions they had and checked their answers. The student that received the most points will get a piece of pie tomorrow – I’m always talking about making food so most of them are interested in trying it.

Julie had mentioned having a better mix of problems in her original post, so I made sure that I had more medium problems than easy or difficult ones. The only other thing I would do next time is give students a minimum number of problems to complete or a minimum number of points they needed to earn because a couple of students were perfectly content completing the 4 easy problems and stopping there… this isn’t their first time seeing quadratics so I should be expecting them and encouraging them to push themselves into the problems that require more work. But I will definitely be using this idea again in the future!

Zombie Graveyard

I haven’t posted in a couple of weeks due to some traveling but I wanted to make sure that I posted about one of my favorite (and my students favorite) review/practice problem games.

The last day of our unit on Polygons in Geometry was spent on area and perimeter. Students start learning about area and perimeter in elementary school, so most of this is review. The only new thing is the formula for area of a regular polygon. We did two problems using this formula together, and discussed the important of units before beginning the game.

Zombie Graveyard is pretty simple. The goal of the game is to be the last student alive (or the student with the most lives left if you run out of time).

  1. Write down each students name on a white board that is easily accessible to the students. Give each student an X to represent each life you want them to have. The number of lives will depend on how long you want the game to last and how many student you have.
  2. Students, on individual whiteboards, attempt to find the answers to a problem displayed on the board/screen. I gave my students 45 seconds to complete perimeter problems and 1-2 minutes to complete area problems. This is a faster pace than what I normally play at because this is an advanced-pace course and the nature of the topic was review.
  3. Call on students randomly to show you their answers. This year I used the Class Cards app to select 5 random students. Last year I used the random number generator on my calculator and called students by their seat numbers.
  4. Students who have gotten the answer correct get to go up to the white board and take away a life from anyone.
  5. Once you’ve lost all of your lives, you’re dead. But that’s not the end of the game! Oh no. You have become the undead – a zombie – and zombies, should they get a problem correct when they are randomly selected, now get to take away TWO lives.
  6. Keep completing problems until you only have one person left alive!

My students love this game every time we play. I think it’s by far their favorite way to do simple “plug-and-chug” practice problems, and I try to play it once a month with at least one of my classes. It does require lots of student and teacher control, but the students know that the game can end any time it gets too out of hand and we will go back to individual practice problems that are turned in for a grade.

Last year I played this for the first time with simplifying powers in Algebra I. I plan on playing it again later this month for Surface Area and Volume, and am always looking for more concepts that it can be used for!