Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Bringing Back Elementary School Activities in the High School Classroom

By: Rachel Barry

Sometimes I find myself thinking about my favorite activities in school, and what helped me learn best.  I think of playing Jeopardy, group races, and some of the other novelty activities that I would potentially win candy for back in elementary school.  I can see why I liked these activities - I was engaged throughout class, and there was an element of competition.  Here are some ways that I have been working to incorporate these into my classroom this year.

Mad Minute
Remember back in elementary school when you had one minute to complete as many problems as possible?  I know that I sure loved these!  Given, yes, I eventually went on to become a math teacher, so I am aware that some students in the class probably hated these.  I have included these as warm-ups on isolated skills, such as slope to quickly assess which students are getting it and which students need more of my help on the topic.  For these topics, I give students a set three or five minutes by using the timed question feature in Schoology quizzes.  

Logic Problems
I have some students who struggle with the math concepts in class but get real world application problems.  To try to get them more engaged in class, I have used logic problems as warm-ups.  Here is an example.  This has been a great way to get my students' brains going at the start of class.  It is also very interesting to see how various students' brains work, as some will make a chart or diagram, while others make lists.  

Matching Activities
Tangibles are great, quick activities for students to showcase their learning.  After playing a matching game with my two-year old niece, I decided to use this same concept in my classroom.  Students in my class were learning the various types of functions and their graphs.  I created this matching activity, where the graphs, names, and equations of functions were printed on different three different colored cardstock paper.  Students had to match each with their respective function. 

With these or other activities, I sometimes give out candy to the first 3 finishers.  Sometimes I do group or partner races to see who can finish a set of problems most accurately and the fastest.  I find that students can be more engaged when there is competition involved, however, students who are not the fastest of workers get frustrated if there are too many competitions in class.  Mixing up warm-up activities, as well as using competitions individually or in partners/groups, can build engagement for the day.

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