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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Escape Room - Classroom Style

Today I conducted my first escape room with the students.  For certain reasons (I won't bore you with the reasons) I had to give my final exam last week and we still have 3 weeks of school to go.  Therefore these remaining days are full of fun activities and test re-take days.

Obviously I can't lock the students in a room (or can I?), so the students need to unlock this container to symbolize exiting the room.  The students find clues around the room to unlock to locks and win.

Yep, that's a hasp with four different locks on it.  A directional lock, a 3-digit lock, a key lock, and a word lock.  All found on amazon.  

And of course, a reward for opening the box!

I also have my safe that I use for code-breaking partners activity (click here to read about that) and decided to utilize this for the activity.  

A few action shots:

Materials Needed:

Purchase: Hasp, directional lock, 3-digit lock, 4 letter word lock, key lock, lock box with code, a box that locks, and prizes.  

Make/Print and Laminate:

1) Propaganda Posters (click here).  These posters have directions (left, right, up, and down) on them for the students to use on the directional lock.  

2) Hint Cards.  I gave them up to 3 hints.

3) 4-digit hints.  This will open the lock box. The answer is 4962.

  • I am a four digit number.  My ones digit is even and not 0.
  • My hundreds digit is 5 more than my thousands digit.
  • If you double my ones digit, that is my thousands digit.
  • My tens digit is equation to the number of chairs at each table in the commons. (You will need to create this to be something equal to 6).

4) Number Cards.  I used 7 of them.  The mean of the numbers is 678 which is the code for the 3-digit lock.  I also put on each card "__ out of 7" so they knew they needed 7 numbers total.  The numbers are 752, 930, 1301, 433, 716, 299, 315.  

5) Letter Clues:

Print one color one: MEAN
Print on color two: SLOPE 
Print on color three: LINEAR
Print on color four: GRAPH

Make sure that only one of your words is a 4-letter word.  The other three words are distractors.  The 4-letter word, MEAN, lets the students know that they need to take the mean of the 7 number cards in order to unlock the 3-digit lock.  

Set up:

Put the prizes in the box that will have the hasp.

Put the directional lock, word lock, key lock, and 3-digit lock on the hasp.  

Place one hint card, the key, 1 of each color letter, and two number cards in the lock box.  Close and lock.  

Keep two hint cards and one digit hint card to the side and hide the rest around the room.  
So, you're hiding 5 number cards, 16 letter cards, and 3 digit hint card.  
Remember to post the propaganda posters in order for the directional lock.  

During Class:

Here's the tricky part; you only want about 5-8 students working on this at a time.  I'm lucky enough to have a para-educator that has her teacher certification and takes the remaining students to another room.  

Before I set them loose, I tell them that they are "locked" in a room and in order to escape, they need to unlock the box with the hasp.  I tell them where to not look in the room (like my desk, inside the garbage can, etc).  I hand them the two hint cards and the one digit hint card and let them begin.  They have one class period to "get out".  

The Results:

This was the first escape room I've ever planned so I wasn't sure what to expect.  All classes unlock everything within 30 minutes.  I suppose it's better to have time left over rather than frustrate the students.  Plus it gave me time to set up for the next class.  

Here's what I overheard the students saying:

"If math class were like this all the time, I would participate."
"I feel like a secret agent."
"That was actually fun."
"Make it harder next time."

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Survival of the Fittest (Gamification)

This is my go-to activity when I want to gamify my classroom: Survival of the Fittest.  This game takes place over one topic/unit or you can allow it to last as long as you like.  I created this when The Hunger Games came out and all my students were reading the books; the theme is woven around the story of Panem.

I start class by explaining to the students that they have been cast on a reality TV show called "Survival of the Fittest".  This is the letter I give them:  (all materials can be found in this shared document).  

Dear Students, 
In an effort to supplement my teaching salary, I have volunteered all of you to be part of a new reality show called Survival of the Fittest.  The producers of the show and I are very excited to begin this endeavor.
 Survival of the Fittest is a game where you are a member of a team and need to only stay alive for the duration of the show in order to win.  There will only be one winning team in the game.    Winners will receive bragging rights along with extensive knowlegde of     ___________________. 
In order to survive, you will need supplies such as water, food, weapons, and a bit of good luck.  Other teams may try to sabotage you, so be alert.  Anything could happen in this game as the “game-creators" are attempting to put on a good show and boost television ratings. 
 To begin, you will be flown to a remote location without any communication devices available to you.  You and your team will have the opportunity to earn supplies to help keep you alive.  Guard these supplies with your life, as you may need them to survive.
 I wish you luck and may the best team win!

To begin, I break the class into teams of 3 or 4 students, trying very hard to keep the academic skills of the teams even.  When creating teams, keep in mind the attendance levels of each students as well.  The teams will work together throughout the duration of the game/unit, helping each other learn and master the material.

Earning Supplies:

At the end of each lesson or class I give the students an exit ticket with three problems on it: one easy, one medium, and one hard.  Each student works on the problems individually as if it were a quiz.  After class I "grade" each paper by stapling supplies to their work.  This is the only feedback I give them.  Level 1 supplies are earned by getting the easy question correct.  Level 2 supplies are earned by getting the medium question correct.  And level 3 supplies are earned by getting the hard question correct.  When they receive their papers back the next day, they work with their team to go over the problems.  If there are lingering questions, I'll go over them with the whole class.  Each team pools their supplies together to use when necessary.

The Supplies:

The level 1 supplies are granola bars, water bottles, and beef jerky.  I printed them on pink paper to make them easier to spot.

The level 2 supplies are rabbit snares, sleeping bags, and belts copied on yellow paper.

The level 3 supplies are medicine, bow & arrows, and good luck charms on green paper.
Note - The good luck charm (the mockingjay) is wild, it can be used with any game-creator card.

I keep all the supplies in 3 Ziplock bags separated by color.  When I go to pick the supplies to staple to the students' papers, I take a supply out of the appropriate bag randomly.

Health Level:

Each team starts with a health level of 8 and when they reach a health level of 0 they are out of the game.  When I first used this game, I kept track of their health levels on the class white board.  However, that whiteboard is precious real estate 'round here and I think students were moving their team's icon when I wasn't looking.  So, I created this google drawing that the students can view and I can edit.  Each time a team goes down a health level (see below), I move their icon digitally.  The link below will give you a copy of the google drawing so that you can do the same with your students.  There is also the printable cards if you prefer something more tangible.

Note - All materials are in the shared google doc, the link is above.

Going Down Health Levels:

Every once in a while (and after the teams have had a chance to collect a reasonable amount of supplies) I read a random game-creator card.  These cards describe situations that require the students to have a certain supply (they have to hand in the supply needed, it can't be used more than once).  If a team doesn't have that needed supply, they go down a health level.  Of course alliances can be formed and if a team doesn't have a needed supply another team may give them that supply or trade.  
When I use the game-creator cards, I keep going until at least one team goes down a health level.  I also don't let any teams get to 0 before the end of the game, I keep them hanging on there.  Then on the last day of the game I use enough game-creator cards to have all teams lose except for 1.  

Some Fluff:

In the books there is what is called a 'feast' at the cornicopia.  I liken these to review games.  I like to play a review game with the students where they can earn random supplies throughout and I will read random game-creator cards throughout as well.  You can use any review game you like, Jeopardy, Bazinga, whatever.  


Can teams go up a health level?
No, they can only go down health levels.  You want this game to end eventually, right?

Can I use a belt as a weapon?
I usually say no, but I've been thinking about changing this.  Maybe a belt and two food items = 1 weapon.  It's your call.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

The Sine Game

The Sine Game is just like The Line Game except with sinusoids.  Click here to read about the line game.

For The Sine Game, you will project a sinusoid graph while the students find the matching equation, centerline, amplitude, phase shift, and period.

Click here shared google sheets presentation.

Click here for the 50 Game Cards.

Click here for the answer key.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Bring Your child to Work Day

My youngest son is in Kindergarten this year and I decided he was old enough to accompany me to work this year on Bring-Your-Child-To-Work day.  He and I have been excited about this for weeks.  I was so wired that I practically jumped out of bed that morning when my alarm went off.  And he was so excited that he was ready a half hour earlier than normal.

Yup, he wanted to wear a crown and a cape.  But he's not too far off; teachers are super heroes and royalty.  

I know the shirt's too big for him, but the school was kind enough to give him the smallest size they have so he could participate in our dress down day.  All students, teachers, and staff have this shirt and we try to have everyone wear it on these days.  

We were invited to a Biology class to see sheep eyes being dissected during my prep.  It wasn't as bad as I thought.  Actually, the inside of a sheep's eye is very colorful.  We learned that the choroid looks something like this:

I wanted to make sure that the day's lessons continued and my son had a chance to participate.  He greeted students at the door, handed out papers, collected papers, put starts on students' work, and took attendance.  

He really enjoyed the day and I was worried about him having a lot of energy left over from not having recess, but I couldn't be more wrong.  He fell asleep early that night and had a lot of trouble waking up the next morning.  

When I came in the next day by myself I felt so lonely. It's strange how having him there just one day made a strong emotion in my like that.  It really hit me when I saw his hand-writing desk plate:

Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Parabola Game

The Parabola Game is very similar to The Line Game.  Click here to read about The Line Game.

However, for The Parabola Game the teacher will project quadratic equations in standard form and the students will match these 5 attributes to each one:

  • Graph
  • Discriminant
  • Vertex
  • Table of Values
  • Equation in Vertex Form

Here are the resources:

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Intro to Factoring Trinomials (a = 1)

My CP Algebra 1 classes have started factoring trinomial today, where a = 1.  I have always enjoyed factoring trinomials personally, however many of my students don't share my enthusiasm.  It baffles me that they don't enjoy this puzzle of sorts.  "Can you think of two numbers that add to this and multiply to that?"  I believe they don't see it as a puzzle because I don't present it as a puzzle.  I changed that this year.

I started class by giving each student an index card.  I asked them to write their name on the lined side and two integers from -12 to 12 except 0.  Like this:

Next I told them to flip the index card over to the blank side and write the sum and product of the two numbers like this:

Once they were all finished I took the time to walk around the each student and make sure he/she added and multiplied correctly.  It only took a minute but I did find a few mistakes.

Then the fun begins.  Each student was to hold his index card so that the Add/Multiply side was showing and the two original numbers couldn't be seen.  All students were asked to stand up and go from person to person and try to figure out their puzzle.  In other words, "What were their original two numbers?"

The students really seemed to enjoy trying to figure out each other's puzzles.  They especially liked when they stumped someone.  

Overall, I think the activity was a success.  But I did find this stink-poop drawing on the board after class so I'm not so sure anymore.

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Line Game - Linear Graph Review

Educational Objective:
Review linear equations:  slope, intercepts, equations, graphs, and solution ordered pairs

I created this game a few years ago to help my students review linear equations.  The students were doing fine with the topics when it was presented one at a time, but this game requires them to use all those topics at once.  I remember one students saying, "I have never worked this hard in a math class!"
For the game, you will present the students will one graphed line at a time, they are required to match 5 attributes to that line as quickly and accurately as they can.  To do this, the cards with the attributes are dealt to the teams randomly.  The first team to identify a matching card will be rewarded with 5 points, the next correct team will receive 4 points, etc.  until all 5 cards are matched.
If a team incorrectly identifies a card, they will lose 2 points from their score.  Likewise, if a team has a matching card and doesn't recognize it, they will lose 2 points.
After all 10 lines have been displayed, the team with the highest score is the winner.

Before Class:
Print and laminate the 50 game cards.  Click here for the cards.

Print a copy of the answer key.  Click here for the answer key.  The answer key is the third page of that document.  I laminated my copy of the answer key and use a dry erase marker to keep track of what cards have been matched during the game.  

Beginning of Class:
Divide your class into five (5) teams and give each team ten (10) random game cards.  Instruct them to look over the cards.  Make sure each team member can see all the cards and the images being displayed.  

Project the title screen of the presentation.  Click here for the presentation.  

Game Play:

Display the first line and remind the students that there are five cards out there that match the graphed line (slope and y-int, slope and point, equation, two ordered pairs, intercepts).  Once a team believes they have a match, they tell you the code on the bottom of the card.

The first correct team is awarded 5 points
The second correct team is awarded 4 points
The third correct team is awarded 3 points
The fourth correct team is awarded 2 points
The fifth correct team is awarded 1 point

If a team is incorrect, their score is reduced by 2.
If a team has a matching card, but doesn't recognize it, their score is reduced by 2.

Note - In order to avoid having teams with negative scores, you might want to start each team with a certain amount of points.  Perhaps each team could start with 10 points.

Make the students aware that since the cards were distributed randomly, a team may have more than one matching card on a line, or even no cards that match a particular line.

After each line, instruct the students that those five cards will not match anymore lines and they can set them to the side.  After each line, I like to go over any incorrect matches that the students made (not that they listen, but I try).

Tips and Tricks:

  • I do not let the students know that there are 10 lines.  I tell them that there are 11, that way once we reach the 10th line they will still look to see if cards match rather than automatically calling out the codes.  This only works the first time we play the game.
  • Make sure all students can see the projection.
  • Make sure all team members agree on a card before checking your answer key.

Rules and Game Play Video:
I apologize for the volume of this video.  I had to turn my speaker all the way up to hear it and I will invest in a microphone in the future :)