Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Linear Function Star Chain

I've posted about this activity before, but I wanted to share a new Star Chain I made this week to review linear functions.  My students really struggled on a quiz last week when I mixed up the problem types.  I asked students to find slope, x-intercepts, y-intercepts , and zeros from all different types of situations.  They had been doing great when we studied each topic by itself, but once I mixed them all up on a quiz, many of them couldn't seem to remember what to do when.  They were finding rise over run when all I asked for was the x-intercept, or when asked to find a zero, they would find the y-intercept. 

I can't say that I blame them.  They've got a lot of brand new vocabulary floating around in their sweet little heads and they haven't yet made all the connections necessary to differentiate between all the critical elements of a line.

After doing a little reteach yesterday, I decided to pull out one of my older activities that I use when I need something that is completed individually and is self-checking.  The students seemed to enjoy making these star chains once they got the hang of how it worked.  They are very easy to make if you use my template.  All you need is twelve problems and 12 unique answers.  Be sure and give your star chain a trial run and make sure it doesn't loop back on itself.  I learned that lesson the hard way.
I would also allow at least 30 minutes to do this activity or  a little more if your students are slow at cutting things out.

You can click here to see the original post which explains how the activity works

Here is the  Linear Function Star Chain  I used today. It contains a mix of problems which require students to find slope, intercepts, and zeros from a variety of representations.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Football Frenzy

Today, I'd like to share an activity from one of my amazing colleagues.  My friend, Bonnie,  shared this activity with our team last week and I asked her if I could share it on my blog.  This activity is perfect for those fall Fridays when your students are more concerned about the big game than they are about staying on task and completing another boring homework assignment.  This activity would also be great for the Friday before the Super Bowl. 

If you are familiar with my Ghosts in the Graveyard, it is a very similar idea.  Students work in groups to complete a set of problem cards with the goal of moving their game piece down a football field in order to score a touchdown. Bonnie, used this activity to practice factoring, but you could practice just about any topic with this game.

Materials Needed:
1.  A large football field that your can draw onto your whiteboard or some green butcher paper
2.  A marker for each team to move down the field
3.  5-6 problem cards for each yardage:  5, 10, 15


1.  Place students in groups of three or four
2.  Give each group a “5 yard card”.  If group works all problems correctly, advance their marker 5 yards on the football field.  Once successful on a “5 yard card” they may advance to a “10 yard card”.  If successful, advance their marker 10 yards and they may work a “15 yard card”
3.  If the group is unsuccessful at any level, they must work another card on that same level before they move on.
4.  Once successful at every level, they may work cards at any level they choose.
5.  First group to score a touchdown wins
Here are the generic Football Frenzy instructions complete with templates for the football cards and markers
Here is my friend's Football Factoring activity


Friday, October 5, 2012

Ghosts In The Graveyard (New and Revised)

It's hard to believe, but October is already here and even though we are still dealing with temperatures in the 90's here in South Texas, it is time to start planning for my favorite activity of the entire year.

Ghosts in the Graveyard is an activity that I use every Halloween to review concepts I've taught since the beginning of school.  The activity has proven so popular that I've also had to create games to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I've also had wonderful feedback from readers who've tried this activity in their classroom with great success. 

If you want to try it in your classroom, it is time to start planning now, because it will take you a little time to get it all together.  The main preparation is developing your ghost problem cards, getting them laminated, and then cutting out the little ghosts. 

Materials you will need

8-10 problem cards (I will provide you with a template)
4 Tombstones that you will draw and hang up on your board
About 50 little ghosts for each class (template provided)
Answer Sheet for each student
Answer Key

Objective:  Collect as many "little ghosts" as possible by working together as a group to complete a set of review problems.


1.  On each large ghost template, write or type 3 or 4 problems (I copy onto orange paper and laminate)

2.  Before each class hang up four tombstones at the front of the room

3.  Place students in groups of 3-4 and give each student an answer sheet to record their work

4.  Pass out a problem card to each group and place the extra cards at the front of the room

5.  Students work together to complete the problems on their card and then call you over when they are finished to check their answers.  If all three problems are correct (and every single person has worked the problem) I give them a "little ghost" which they write their group number on and place on one of the tombstones at the front of the room.  They can place all their "little ghosts" on the same tombstone or they can split them up.

6.  After finishing their first card, they go pick up another card and begin working on it with the goal of collecting as many "little ghosts" as possible.

7.   About 10 minutes before the end of class, I call time and then the fun starts.

8.  What they don't know at the beginning of the class is that I have assigned a point value of each tombstone.  So Tombstone #1 might be worth 25 points, #3 might be worth 50 points etc. 

9.  To calculate the score, count the number of ghosts on each tombstone and multiply by the point value.

10.  The cool thing about this game is that the group that does the most problems doesn't necessarily win.  This is one of the few activities I do that the students will literally beg to do "One more problem"!

Get all the templates, instructions, and student answer sheet here

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