Do not delay, try this activity NOW.
Whenever I discover an activity that lets all students in my class work at their own level while I get to assist students that need extra attention I have to share it. I know that many other teachers are already using this activity, but for those who have not yet discovered it, I must insist that you try it now.
A great friend of mine who is an amazing teacher uses this game regularly in public school with classes of 35 students, and it works for her. She has been telling me about the virtues of this activity for two years (thanks Les!), but it always seemed like too much work so I didn’t try it. I was wrong. It is not much work at all. It is very easy to plan, and the kids love it. But, best of all, it is an activity where every student in your class will be challenged at their level.
- Make up at least 16 math problems. (I would do more if I had a larger class.) Make them progressively harder. Make the first few very easy and make the last few really tough!
- Print these 16 problems on one sheet of paper.
- Fold the paper in half. The question is on the outside. Write the answer on the inside so it is not visible.
- Assign each paper a number from 1 – 16, marked very visibly on the front.
- Place (tape/tack) these problems all around the room, but not in order. This is where the “Hunt” comes in. They have to find where the next problem is.
- Assign students a “start number” based on their ability level. Struggling students would be assigned #1, advanced students #8. I usually assign two or three students to each number to start.
- Students will go in order. If they start with #5, the next problem they work with be #6.
- Students travel at their own pace – they do not have to wait on the other students that were assigned their number to finish the same problem.
- Have the students write down the question and all work on their own papers. Once they are finished with a problem, they can check the answer. If they miss it, they have to RE-work the problem. If they can’t figure it out, they can call you over to help them out.
- Be sure to tell them that they will probably NOT finish all of the problems in a class.
- Some students WILL finish all of the problems. When they come to you to tell you they are done, you can them make them “additional helpers”. They walk around the class assisting students who need help using the work on their papers. I do not tell students this in advance, as I don’t want them “racing” to get finished so that they can be a helper.
- I taped beginning problems to the tables so that I could have room to sit with struggling students and help them.
- I didn’t want to waste 16 sheets of paper so I printed out 16 problems on one sheet, cut the problems out, and then glued the problems to the outside of recycled paper.
- Next time I am not going to make the easy problems #1. I am going to make the easier problems start at #8 and then go from there. (So the hardest problem would be #7).
- I let students help each other as long as they are not just telling each other the answer.
You don’t have to make the last problems really hard, especially if you have a large class and aren’t going to have the time to help out your advanced students too. Don’t feel bad about this. When they “fly” through your problems, they get to help teach their peers. And, we all know how much more we learn when we are teaching something. Everyone still wins! J
I did this activity so that I could work individually with struggling students and so that advanced students would get a chance to work on really challenging problems. A fabulous side benefit of this activity was that my advanced students needed my help too! These are students who usually “get everything” the first time and rarely need my help. I was thrilled to get to work one on one with them as well.
I talked Elissa into doing this game today. I really hope that it went well for her. I am sure that she will make it better AND color coordinated. I am hoping that she will blog about it as well because I am looking forward to stealing some ideas from her (hint, hint Elissa).
Some of my students wanted a “prize” at the end for finishing. I didn’t want to do this because not all students would finish and I did not want them to feel bad about that. Plus, I didn’t want them to rush to finish (and feel like they just needed to get the right answer). I wanted them to focus on the “process”. But, there is usually something at the end of a scavenger hunt…