“Speed Dating” Review – Get Them Moving!

“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.

Literal Equations, Number Magic, and Group Speed Dating

Literal Equations Speed Dating

I did this lesson in one 90 minute block period, but it was rushed at the end.  Two 55 minute class periods would have been better.

Last year equation solving in Algebra 2 was TRAGIC.  This year I knew I had to change that.  I decided to start with a concept that worked wonders in my middle school math classes, Math Magic.  I found the idea on Dan’s blog long ago.

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I have them tell me their result, and then I tell them the number they chose by simply subtracting one from their result and dividing by 2.  A few kids pick up on it right away, but many don’t.  Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 5.15.24 PMNext, I have them write down the “Pick a Number” directions using algebra.  We talk about how they have to use a variable because everyone picked a different number.  After they attempt this and share it with their partner, we talk about any errors.  Some students will forget the parenthesis around 2(n + 7).

I then give them an equation and tell them to develop the steps they would need to give this problem to a friend.  After writing the steps, I tell them the result, and see if they can work backwards to find the original number.  I let them figure it out on their own, then encourage them to write out the steps.

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Next year I will give them more time with this.  It would be great for them to come up with their own and share with others.  Then, start the Glenn’s part on day 2.

This year, after I did a few of these, I shared with them my three rules for solving equations, which I modified from Glenn’s blog.  I had them make up a CRAZY equation by letting kids just shout out numbers and operations, and then challenged them to write all of the steps to get back to x.  Their equation looked something like this.

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It took up the entire board to “undo” and was AWESOME.  I then let them try one on their own that I made up.  The challenge – get back to x!

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Once they write the steps to get back to x and confirm with their partner, I tell them the result is 12, and challenge them to find out what x is.  I had kids ask if they could do it in their heads.  In seconds, the entire class had the correct answer!  Yes, they easily solved this, in seconds.

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After this, moving to literal equations was a breeze!  I gave them a few easy examples of literal equations, making sure they were showing each step and explaining that they were using inverse operations to make 0 or 1 each step along the way.  To practice, I put Glenn’s worksheet onto cards and did Meg’s Group Speed Dating Instructions.  Like Meg, I gave each group of 3/4 kids two cards.  They worked together to solve it and had a chance to ask me questions.  Then I had two kids move around the room as partners and 2 stay at the table.  For each rotation, the partners switched cards and solved each other’s questions.  I told them they had to work with their partner before asking the other group any questions.  Some of the questions were tough, but they really worked well together!  Number 1 was very easy, while number 6 was quite challenging for the students.  I really hope that this makes complicated equation solving seem so much easier throughout the year for my students!

My biggest draw back to this lesson was that we don’t move around until the last 20 minutes of the period.  I would love to get them up and moving before the end as a 90 minute block gets very long about half-way through.