Saturday, September 15, 2012

Math Scavenger Hunt


One of the things I spend a lot of time thinking about is how to give kids practice without it seeming like practice.  I feel like I'm not "supposed to" just give kids a practice worksheet to do for the whole period because it's not interactive and creative and engaging and all that.  And what if someone came in to observe and my plan for the day was just to hand out a worksheet?  That certainly wouldn't look good.  And then of course there's the fact that many of the kids I have just can't focus for that long.  They'll end up either bored or frustrated within 10-15 minutes and will be done working.

But the problem is, what do I do when all they need is practice??  In order to really master math skills, they need to practice.  I can do great discovery activities and hands-on learning, but eventually they NEED to practice.  I guess homework is designed to do that, but it just doesn't work well enough.  Kids need the scaffolding.  They need to practice with a safety net (me) in the room with them.

So what to do?

Try to trick them into thinking they're doing something more fun than a practice worksheet.

I've already talked about one way that I do this.  Cut up a worksheet, call it stations and all of a sudden it's more interesting.

On Friday I found another trick.  I read about this activity at Math-N-Spire at some point and then remembered it Friday and decided to give it a try.  Sidenote: I do this all the time.  I do plans for the week, but as the week goes on I pretty much always come up with something that I like better.  So that often leaves me creating something that I'm going to do the same day.

On Thursday we had gone over some key words used in math so on Friday, they needed to practice translating verbal expressions into math.  I found some problems that I really liked, but handing it out and telling them they had the period to finish wasn't going to work.

Instead, I cut this worksheet (which I found) in half and gave the kids about 10/15 minutes to do the first 10.  This page went in their ISN. 

For the rest, I took 8 of the more challengeing problems and wrote them on index cards.  I lettered each one and then shuffled them all up.  Then I went through and put the answer to the first problem on the second card.  Then put the answer to that problem on the next card, and so on.  When I got to the last card, that answer went on the first card- creating a loop.

This sounds way more complicated than it is, but I'll admit I screwed it up the first time and had to start over.  When I had them all done, I taped the problems randomly all over the room answer side facing out.

Then each kid started at a different card (one period worked in pairs) and looked at the problem on the back.  They had to get the answer, then find it on another card in the room.  Then they solved that problem and so on.  They recoreded the answers and the letters as they went along.  They were complete when they reached the problem they started at and then I checked their letters to make sure they were in the correct order.

My classes are pretty small, but I can honestly say that all of the kids were actively working.  If they were stuck and got an answer wrong, they knew it was wrong becasuse there was no matching answer so they would come find me and ask for help. 

I enjoyed this one a lot and after doing it I have some ideas for some variations I could add in next time. 
One is to differentiate.  The cards all create a loop, so in period where kids are at different levels, I could create two (or maybe even three) different loops of problems that are at varied levels of difficulty.  By telling kids where to start, I could choose the level that is most appropriate for them.  I thought about doing the loops different colors, but if they were actually all the same color cards then kids wouldn't even need to know that there's any difference.

Or (and this could take a little more planning) on a nice day, this could be interesting to take outside.  Looking for the answer to the next problem could be more fun and challenging for them if they're searching around a courtyard instead of just inside the classroom.

13 comments:

  1. Sarah: I, like you, try to make routine practice feel more interactive and fun. This scavenger hunt is something I could easily do. My only question. When you say that the kids had to find the next card with the answer to the previous question, how did you structure where they could or couldn't look? Did they just roam around the room looking for cards or were there specific places they knew to look? And yes, doing it outdoors would be a great break (and for me, we're on block periods so it'd be a great way to break up a block).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I only had 8 cards and a fairly small room so it was pretty obvious where the cards were, it was just a matter of finding the correct one. They were all taped to the walls or windows somewhere. I don't think I would hide them too hard because I wouldn't really want kids looking through all my stuff.

      If you try it outside, I'd love to hear how it goes! A block period would be great for that.

      Delete
  2. I've done one looping activity ... and just created another for Monday. We call them circuit exercises. I'll post them on Monday (they are at work). I love the idea of differentiating! Makes me want to redo the one I created for Monday ... but I'm not sure there is time!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There's always next time! That's my plan..I came up with it afterwards seeing how some kids found it easier than others.

      Delete
  3. Could you share what your distributive foldable looks like? Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm still working to come up with something great for distributive property. I've done a couple different things, but I'm not thrilled with any of them, I'm on the lookout for something better.

      Delete
  4. I have done this before! I have a template I have used before where instead of being on cards, I put the questions and answers on a single sheet of paper. The top half has answers and the bottom half has problems. I have called it a poster journey. I can send it if you are interested! I also have done a similar thing outside, but I put the problems in plastic eggs for them to find.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh that sounds good, and easier than writing them all out. I would love to see it!

      That's also too funny you mentioned the easter eggs because I had a kid ask jokingly if it was an easter egg hunt and I told him that next time I could put the problems inside eggs if he really wanted.

      Delete
    2. I uploaded it and the egg hunt to my scribd for you. The username is gingercberry. Hope it helps!

      Delete
    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
  5. Sarah-

    Thank you for your great ideas! You inspired me to create a Scavenger Hunt, so I wanted to share it with you:

    Posters to Put Around Room: https://www.box.com/s/bbpqq3uimu30684m0fw7
    Worksheet for Students (in Word): https://www.box.com/s/y18slyjsbfy0wvbft0ku
    Worksheet for Students (in PDF): https://www.box.com/s/01ae5ebl2fqumeohcwru

    Thanks again!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's awesome!! Thanks SO much for sharing, I'll definitely be using this one. I also love the idea of a student worksheet to go with it- I did one on Friday and it definitely worked out really well.

      Delete
  6. This reminds me so much of this "Problem Trail" activity by the Amazing Math Guy! He uses multiple choice questions; the correct or incorrect question directs where to go next:
    http://amazingmathguy.wordpress.com/2012/03/05/problem-trail/

    ReplyDelete