Summer school is over and I have a month before school starts up again. With going to block scheduling, I have been thinking a lot lately about how I will keep my students entertained. For me, a juicy problem that has multiple entry points with multiple paths to a solution can keep me busy for quite awhile….but I know students don’t always see it that way. I don’t like doing activities for the sake of doing activities but I do see the value in students being able to practice their skills in a way that doesn’t seem to be another worksheet.
Below is something I used last week to have students practice their Pythagorean Theorem skills. They all said they already knew this before so I wanted to see how much of this was true as well as let them to show off their ability. I believe the original idea of this is something Dan Meyer once used and I modified to fit my needs.
As students walk in, I give them all a card from a deck. I only used all the 2-8 cards and students wondered what they were used for. They kept asking and all I did was smiled and said “you’ll see”. They hate that….and yet it builds anticipation so they secretly love it. When it was time for the activity, I had students go to the appropriate problem (either 2-8 depending on their card they received earlier), and begin. When they answer the question, they had to then find the next question and answer that one. All the problems are multiple choice while I walk around the room monitoring progress. At the end of the document, I put the answers to the correct route that I carry with me. I usually put them up before class or since I share classrooms, while the students are working on their opener or some other task. It doesn’t take long to tape 12 problems up around the room.
To add to the suspense, I tell them that they have to find me in the “Jungle”. I tell them how I grew up and it was hard to find places for hide and seek because I am so tall and that a jungle helps me since their are a lot of tall trees. They all laugh, think I am weird like any other given day, and then get to work. I also have them keep track of their work and make a big deal about turning it in so they will actually show all their steps and blah blah blah. You get the picture. Keeps them moving, on task, starting at different spots, and finding out if they are correct or not. Lots of things I like about practice all rolled up into one little package.