“Speed Dating” is a very easy way to spice up a review / practice day. It’s a quick twist on an otherwise long day of just working review problems, especially when we have too much material to get through for some of my favorite games like Trasketball or Survivor. I do it a bit differently than it has been done in math classes previously.** Each students sits with one partner to do one problem that I project. They each work on individual whiteboards, but talk together while working. I walk around and answer questions while they work. After we finish each problem, one person at each table rotates to the next table. The same people move all period. I usually have them do a quick rock, paper, scissors, to determine who has to move.

I usually have the students put everything away and clear off all of the tables. Then, I have them put their bookbags against the walls so everyone can move around the room more easily. I really like that they don’t have all of their “stuff” out during this activity as I think it helps them focus on just the math and their partner.

I make a big deal about saying “HI!” to your new date after every rotation. I also tell them to be a good date by talking and helping each other out. Occasionally I will have an odd number, then I just put three people at one table.

I think it works so well for two reasons. First, the kids are moving all period long, which helps them stay alert. Second, they are working with a new partner for each problem. The combination of these two things keeps them more interested and alert than the normal review day. I also love doing groups of two because each student feels more responsible for helping their “date” and getting the work completed together.

**The original “Speed Dating” in Math Class idea came from the amazing Kate Nowak. She does it a bit differently, where each student is an expert on a certain problem and then explains it to others. I like that as well when it is a review with different types of problems, but use this method when I need the same type of problems to get progressively more complicated for the entire class.

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Thanks for the dtailed post on this great strategy.

Saw a teacher use it wuth a variation that i also liked. Students had been given long review to work on the night before. (Most of these reviews came back with lots of blank space – things they needed help on before the test.) Each original pair of partners were assigned a problem to become experts on. The teacher circulated to ask questions, remind the pairs where to look for help in their notes. Then the rotations begin just as you described. The new pairs took turns explaining their problems to each other. Then shift.

I sat next to a girl who was clearly lost and frustrated. At the begining of the activity she knew she was about to fail another test. The boy who sat down next to her explained his problem and then asked about hers. “I don’t know how how to do it”, she said. “This is what my partner wrote down,” and she shoved her paper at the boy. This first round was basically copying down work from each other’s papers. There was no real discussion, although other groups were working well. It was time to rotate. The second group was similar to the first except her new partner said, “oh it looks like what you were trying to do is square both sides here, is that right?” The girl I was watching checked the work. “Maybe, she said. She was still frustrated. “That was kind of like my problem,” her partner said. More copying, and it was time to move. Her third new partner was a typical vical part of class discussions. He asked her “Which problem did you have?” She said, “Number 17. I don’t totally get it but I think we started by squaring both sides.” She turned her work toward him. He helped her continue to interpret what was happening with the problem and she begin to understand the procedure that was going on. Then he explained his problem. She copied it down. Time to switch. The next person sat down. The girl I was watching said “I had number 17. This is what we tried,” and begin to explain the procedure. She still wasn’t clear at a certain point and tried to hand wave to avoid showing that she didn’t know what was going on. Her partner was persistent. “I don’t understand the step here.” “Me neither,” she confessed. They looked at it for a while then they switched and the partner begin to explain her problem. As they were going through both of them realized what they were confused about on number 17. There was some erasing and clarifying. Time to switch. The new partner arrived. “I did number 17; can I explain it to you?” She was able to get through the explanation with confidence. Her partner said, “I did number 18. It’s kind of the same.” The girl I was watching said, “Wait. Don’t tell me. I want to try it.” So her partner watched as she did the problem and was able to check her answer. This continued for three more rotations before the activity was over. The empowerment I saw as this girl went from hopeless to hopeful and in charge of the mathematics that was in front of her was amazing.

Wow! What a great story! You should definitely post it on your blog! I really like using their homework problems as the speed dating material! I have a class where they could really benefit from that. Thank you!

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