Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Students Make Their Own "I Have, Who Has?" Game

We play I Have, Who Has frequently in my classroom and the students always really enjoy it. I have a stopwatch and I time the class going through the whole set--competing with other classes and also against themselves for the best class time. Last year, when we started the chapter on Algebraic Expressions, I used a set of cards from Mathwire, which is great as an introduction to this topic, but it only has cards for the basic algebraic expression for sum, difference and product. I wanted a set that also included cards for quotients and combining like terms and thought about making a set myself and then decided that, instead of a review worksheet on algebraic expressions, I would ask the students to make their own set of cards for homework instead. They were thrilled and very motivated by this project.  Once the games were made, I allowed the students who wrote and created the cards to run the game in class (hand out the cards, read the first clue, help students if needed, time the class, etc) and they loved it. For about a week we played I Have, Who Has in class with a different set of student made cards each day and, each time we played, students were once again reviewing algebraic expressions by reading, translating and understanding the language of algebra.
The students certainly got a lot of good practice with algebraic expressions just by writing the cards. Unfortunately, most of the games had some errors (2 clues with the same answer, writing that was difficult to read, mathematical mistakes, etc.) in the chain of cards that should loop back to the first card after all the clues and answers have been given (the first card can be any card chosen from the set). I wanted to do this project again this year and decided to create a template for students to use to write the clues and the answers before they make the cards. I wanted the template to be very clear in terms of how the game works and how to write the cards so that each clue is on one card and the answer to that clue is on the next card. I also wanted the students to turn in their template before they make the cards allowing me to review their work and make sure the cards are correct and that the clues and responses will loop through every card correctly. Below is the first page of the template I created--the second page (not shown) has space to make 30 cards in total. I numbered the cards in the columns next to the cards in order to help students keep track of the clues and the answers, but students will need to be instructed to NOT write the card number on the cards so as to not give away the order of the cards during the game.

Here is a link to the template I created.

Monday, February 2, 2015

My Crazy Friend

I used "My Crazy Friend" for the first time in my classroom last week. "My Crazy Friend" is a teaching technique that allows the teacher to introduce a new idea or method of solving a certain type of problem without becoming the one and only authority in the classroom. It also allows students to consider the idea from My Crazy Friend along with other ideas that are generated by students in the classroom. I asked the students how to convert 2/3 into a percent. Here is a list of ideas solutions that they came up with: 66.7%, 67%, 66.6%, 66.67% and 66.66% (repeating). No one in the class came up with 66 2/3%. So I said, I have this crazy friend who says that one way to convert fractions into decimals is to multiply the fraction by 100%. The students tried it and there were some exclamations of surprise when they realized that this gave them the percent in mixed number form. We then spent some time discussing why and how this method works and one student contributed to the discussion by explaining that since 100% = 1, multiplying by 100% does not change the value of the fraction.
Here is a graphic organizer that I use to summarize how to convert from fraction to percent and from decimals to percents using this method. It also shows the opposite--converting to fractions and decimals from percents by dividing by 100. I print this out on a half sheet of paper and the students tape it into their math journals for reference.