Thursday, May 21, 2015

Active Learning through a Scavenger Hunt

By: Rachel Barry

I don't know about you, but I have a few students who get frustrated in their seats.  I can't blame them.  I love that I get to spend each class period walking around while facilitating instruction in my classroom.  This is why every once and a while I create activities that have students move around.  One activity that I have found to be successful is a scavenger hunt.

Here is a Scavenger Hunt that I made for my freshmen to review angle properties and relationships.  I print these pages on cardstock paper and randomly tape them up around the room.  The bottom half of each page is the math problem that the students solve.  Once they have an answer, they look around the room at the top half of each cardstock paper to match their answer with one that is up on the walls.  If they find their answer, they solved the problem correctly, and their next problem is the bottom half of the page with their previous answer.  If their answer is not on another cardstock paper, they check over their work to see where they went wrong.

Typically I assign partners based on student understanding and ability of the topic.  I have found that working in partners gives each student a voice, and also allows me to help struggling students in smaller settings.  To pair up students, I use formative assessment scores to rank the kids highest to lowest.  Then I cut the list in half and match the top student with the student at the top of the second half of the class.  I keep working down the list to create partners, adjusting if I don't feel the personalities of the students will work well together.  I find that this process pairs students that are within a reasonable Zone of Proximal Development from one another.  

Students record their work and answers on this worksheet.  I used to do this prior to students having iPads, and it worked fine.  However, with the integration of technology, students are able to take pictures of the problems graphics and write on the diagram to solve the problem.  I actually observed a pair of students doing this, and now encourage all of my students to do the same.  

So much of our math curriculum is structured.  Bringing in an activity like a Scavenger Hunt fosters learning in an active and engaging way.  I get to see students teaching one another how to solve a problem, thorough discussions on whether or not the answer is positive or negative, and many other enticing conversations amongst my students.  I find it incredibly beneficial in classes that tend to get off task because they focus more on each individual problem in front of them instead of getting overwhelmed with a whole page or packet of practice problems.  

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