A few months ago, I started using f(t)’s speed dating as a review activity in both 11th and 12th grade classes. Even now, many students seem to crave the passivity of copying down notes from lectures. I’m trying to make class as active as possible for them as I can–if I’m solving problems, then they’re not experiencing the work.

Take 1

My first attempt was with function transformation in 11th grade, using the cards from Cheesemonkey SF. My classroom is crammed full of mismatched tables rather than desks, so I asked my 12th advisory to create a long table setup at the end of their class. I made these directions based on the original blog post and went through them with the students ahead of time.

1) Find a seat.
2) Get a transformations problem. Solve and become the expert on that problem for the day.
4) When ready, trade problems with the person across from you and work it. If you have a question, ask your speed dating partner.
6) One row stands up and shifts in the same direction. The student on the end that gets bumped off circles around to the other end.
7) Now everyone should have a new partner and trade problems.
8) Repeat ☺

The whole process proceeded somewhat awkwardly. I ended up with an odd number of students, so I pulled one student who had been flying through the topic to be an answer-checker with me for step 2. Some similarly bright students finished their problems before I even finished reading the directions out loud, while others had to be prodded multiple times to start. Having the answer-checker helped, but we had trouble maneuvering around the huge table formation and keeping track of whom we had checked. The timing difference between the slowest students and the fastest students on step 2 caused a huge delay, so we didn’t get to do that many problems. I would like my students to be self-sufficient enough to do well with this structure, but we have some work to do.

Take 2

I tried this again with my 12th grade math classes a few days later. I pre-divided each class into groups of three students of mixed ability level and put these groups on the direction papers.

1) Divide into the following groups [groups listed here].
2) Get a truth table problem. Solve and become the expert on that problem. All group members should solve the problem before trading.
4) Trade. At the end of each round,
all groups get their original problem back.

In the initial solving round, I drew a diagram of the room on the board and labeled each table with their number. I put check marks on the board diagram when the group had found the answers and continued to do this in subsequent rounds so that we could keep track of when to move on. I liked that the mixed abilities and group support kept the class moving at an even pace and encouraged the students to teach each other (something that has been hard for some of the brighter students to do).

• ### Kate Nowak

That group modification was inspired! Thanks for sharing it.

• ### @cheesemonkeysf

Kristina,

Congratulations on this activity!!! I love the refinements you made to fit your classes’ needs, and I especially love your idea of having *groups* do the trading with other groups. Very crafty. 😉 In a class with a very wide range of ability levels, this is a great way of ensuring that everybody follows the “same problem, same time” and “work in the middle” norms of group work while also providing a social context in which everybody has to use mathematical language to figure things out. Having kids have to get everybody in their sub-group to understand before moving on is a powerful, evidence-based approach to ensuring positive interdependence.

Keep blogging your stuff — this is terrific!

– Elizabeth (@cheesemonkeysf)

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