introducing SBG with games

I introduced SBG this year in two different ways to my seniors.

For the smaller, quieter class:
I wanted to draw them out more and push them beyond “quiet note-taking mode,” so we played Math Taboo in teams using these cards. I picked a topic that they learned in 10th grade math but likely forgot, and cut out the cards and glued them to index cards (for easier shuffling/handling). I’m going to start using Fawn Nguyen’s mailing label method for future games. The students wanted to play boys vs. girls, so we had each team play one two-minute round to see how many terms they could get their team to guess. After the first round, I gave them some time to study the cards and come up with ways to improve their score before the second round. Both teams’ scores improved, and then we talked about how studying with friends and correcting mistakes can make a huge difference in one’s learning.

For the larger, louder class:
This group doesn’t need to be drawn out of their shells as much, but I wanted as many people engaged as possible. With Taboo, there is potential for lost interest and disengagement by students who don’t feel confident about coming up with guesses or who get discouraged when a few students start to monopolize all the guessing. I knew there were several athletes in this group, so I borrowed a cheesy name game icebreaker for their game and used my mathsketball from last year.

1) Arrange the group in a circle.
2) One person starts off by saying the name of someone else in the circle, and tossing the ball to them.
3) That person then in turn says the name of a different person, and tosses the ball to
someone else who has not yet received the ball.
4) That continues until everyone in the circle has received the ball once.

I timed the group and told them their initial score was 54.8 seconds. I asked them how much better they thought they could do. One boy yelled out “we can do it in 20 seconds!” Some other students protested,  but others started chiming in with ideas to cut down on the time and with positive comments to drown out the naysayers. As a group, they came up with a strategy of lining up in a circle and having the first person run around with the ball while everyone said the names. They cut their time down to about 8 seconds. Similarly to the other class, I emphasized the important of working with others to correct one’s mistakes and improve upon past assessments, and that it’s better to persevere than to rage-quit.

Photo Credit: www.wikipedia.org

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