Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Math Scavenger Hunt

So what I did today was set up a scavenger hunt of sorts for my Algebra 2 students. I wanted students to spend time working through the problems and comparing answers with their partners and hopefully learn from each other. (Remember from the last few days that my Algebra 2 students are still struggling with solving equations properly.) I paired the students so that a stronger student was working with a weaker student. I gave each partner group a letter to start with. Around the room I had construction papers with an answer at the top and a problem below as you can see pictured here.

Each pair began with the letter that I gave them and then worked their way through the problems. I had students work out the problems on my new $12 set of (30) 12" x 12" whiteboards (thanks Frank Noschese for the directions on how to get them!) and had each pair record which order they worked the problems so I could check how they were doing on paper. By the third class, I had figured out that if I provided the paper with the first letter on it and the pair's name, it was quicker to get them started and then as they got through the problems, I kept the papers so no one could go and copy the order. A little further down the page on the right is one of the papers from my last class. Some of the groups decided to write the answer along with the problem which helped keep them on track. If they did it right, they would have worked through all of the problems without repeating any of the problems. I had intended to have 15 problems, but in my haste this morning, I managed to leave out the letter k and ended up with 14 problems. My larger classes had 12 pairs working through problems.

As each class worked through the problems, each had its own character. My first class worked at their seats in pairs. They did not get up and move around to each problem. I think this group did the best job of working in pairs and helping each other. This class has truly been a pleasant surprise for me. I had many of these students in 7th grade and they have done quite a bit of maturing since then (especially the boys). They worked diligently throughout the period and I think they really got a lot figured out. My second class did a lot more moving around. They tended to move from problem to problem, which was more of my original thought when setting up this activity. However, of my three groups, this class worked in partners the least. I saw a lot more individual working out of the problems and much less consulting with partners. My third group, which is probably my lowest group ability wise (this class also has the largest amount of juniors - who are students who did not start with Algebra 1 as freshmen which is considered the "normal" path) actually surprised me. Although they were middle of the road as far as how well the partnerships worked - some worked well, others did not, they were engaged the whole way through the activity. When we did the test corrections yesterday, this was the group that seemed to do the least and it is also the group that has the fewest students doing reassessments.

I liked this activity because all three classes were engaged for the class period. Students were doing math and I think they feel better about their understanding on how to solve equations and inequalities. Next up are a couple of days with bringing in some word problems. Tomorrow, I have set up some number tricks (the ones where you start with a number, do several things to it and you are able to tell what number was the final answer) and we'll work through why the number tricks work.

I do need to give a shout out to @misscalul8 and @jreulbach for the inspiration for this activity - I think they discussed something similar to this back in April or May but I couldn't find where either had blogged about it. Thanks ladies for the inspiration!


ispeakmath said...

Hey Lisa! Thanks for the mention. : ) I did blog about it, I called it Math Hunt. http://ispeakmath.wordpress.com/2011/04/15/math-hunt-time-for-targeted-help/

I switch it up each time. The last time I put the answer on the front, so they had to go and find their answer to get the next problem. If they couldn't find it, then they realized their problem must not be correct and tried again.

My 6th grade LOVED it but treated it like a race. I need to find a way to slow them down.

matherine said...

I really want to use this activity with my class who's also struggling with solving equations. I'm still not very clear on how the activity works though - what does the letter mean that you give to each team? How do they know which problems to do next?

Lisa said...

@matherine - The letter is a starting problem for each team. It keeps them from all starting at the same place and from several of them working on the same problem at the same problem. The answer to the problem they are working on is at the top of a paper that has a different problem and that is the problem they do next.

Hope that helps!

picrust said...

I love this idea. Clearly we both read the white board post as just last week I applied for a grant which included these extra-large white boards! I have often put problems up around the room, but I like the idea of moving in a certain order and doing them on large white boards to increase communication and clarification among students.