Race Across the Room! Activity

Yeah, a lame name, I know, I gotta find a better one.  But all the students were surprisingly really into it!

Okay, so I started the day with the following Dr. Seuss “Sneetches” video. (It was Dr. Seuss’s birthday, so yeah, this was a few weeks ago.)

Not at all related to what we’re doing in math, and only vaguely related to something we did earlier in the year (functions & inverses), but it’s got a good moral to the story, and got them out of the Monday Doldrums (even if it took a little longer than I wanted to at about 12 minutes…).

Then, after a brief discussion of how the video is related to math (see powerpoint below), I explained the rules of the “game”.  Basically, it involves students working on a problem, and when they get it, they bring their answer up to me.  If they got it right, then they can go to the next “station” (aka a folder with a small sheet of paper inside).  If they got it wrong, then they basically gain the ability to ask others who are struggling with the problem.  The first question started on the powerpoint (2nd to last slide), and then they moved to the folders and “stations”.

The carrot in front of them were the participation points (as you can see from the powerpoint above).  First place earns 40 points (they need 100 each week, so that’s a sizeable chunk!), and each place you drop, the people earn 2 points fewer at each interval.  My idea was that the difference was small enough that they wouldn’t strongly want to cheat to get ahead (or pester their friends for help too much), but it’s just enough to motivate every student to start out the problems on their own in the hopes that they can solve them before some, if not all, of their peers.  And I’ve got to say, it actually worked in both of my classes!  I don’t know if it is because they really wanted the participation points, or if they are just naturally good students & hard workers (mostly true…), but they were definitely hurrying around the classroom, trying to get the answers and understand what they had wrong when I told them “nope, try again!”  I was definitely unhelpful, and I was impressed with how little they complained.  Perhaps they’re used to that from me by now? 🙂

This activity didn’t work nearly as well on the second day, where some of them were stuck on the same problem and, with no-one finished yet, they had no-one but unhelpful Mr. Newman to “help” them.  Of course, those students were also on the right track and just making a few mistakes here and there where, if they looked carefully, they easily could have seen what they were doing wrong (for example reading the problem I gave them instead of assuming what it was saying!).  But hopefully they learned their lesson.  Overall, I’d say it was a good review activity, as long as I didn’t burn 20 or so minutes explaining an unrelated activity (for some reason, I forget what I was telling them, but I feel like we didn’t get a full 50 minutes to work on it).

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Race Across the Room! Activity

  1. I love the way you used PPs as incentive for the completed work. My students always want to know what’s the prize when I say we’re playing a game or it’s a race. I like how PPs is an automatic reward since all students have to earn 100 by the end of the week. With every post on PPs, you’re selling me on trying it next school year.

    • Awesome, I’m glad you see the benefits! I didn’t envision all of these little benefits when I first started PPs, but because I can offer vastly different incentives every week (unlike a traditional grading system), I’m finding new ways to use PPs to motivate students. For example, just this past week my students needed to sell candy for their class fundraiser. Unfortunately, there were no prizes for selling, so I offered PPs for students who sold above and beyond the quote we required. I know that is borderline “buying their grade”, but because it is for a limited time, and all the money goes back to the students, then I felt that a perfectly acceptable way to use PPs.

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