Who says math isn’t fun? We love math just the way it is, but for students who need a bit more encouragement to see math’s best attributes, it helps to get creative. Math teachers are very creative (and know how to have fun!). We dug through the archives to unearth nine math games, courtesy of math teacher and Teach For America alum Emily Mason, to help students practice problems, increase comprehension, and have fun in the classroom.
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- Games in the classroom are one of the most effective means of engagement and behavior management. Every teacher scours the Internet for ways to mix up their lessons and teach the material in an entertaining way.
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1. Round RobinBenefit: Round Robin is a cooperative activity and allows for group work in which each student has a specific purpose (ensuring everyone participates). Directions: Put students in groups of four (pre-planned to avoid classroom management issues and to ensure that you have one low student, two average students, and one high student in each group). Assign each student a color pencil and have them record his or her name so you can see who is responsible for specific steps in the activity. Each teammate will complete one operation or problem, and then pass on the worksheet to the next teammate. If students feel as though someone on their team has made a mistake, they may politely ask their teammate to reconsider their answer.
2. SequenceBenefit: Sequence helps students practice an objective (especially beneficial with a math objective that requires rote steps to come to an answer) without having to use the typical pencil-paper structure. Directions: Create index cards in advance to show the individual steps of solving a problem. Make as many cards as necessary to solve the problem and paper clip them together. This is one problem. Make as many sets of problems as you need to accommodate the students in your class. Group students together and assign them numbers: Student 1 identifies the first step in solving the problem and places it on the desk. Student 2 identifies the second step and places it beneath the first step, and the process continues until the card with the solution on it is placed.
3. Maze GameBenefit: The maze game is a fun way to practice math problems. Directions: Get about 20 (or as many problems you want students to practice) pieces of computer sized paper. Write out the 20 problems in big print ALL in the same color so that students will be able to see the problems from their seats. Write “start here” on the first problem. Students will solve the problem on their own paper. The answer they find will tell them what problem to solve next. They look for the answer in a different color marker on the top left hand corner of the next problem they should solve. Then, they solve that problem, identify the answer, and find the next problem to solve. The maze ends when they solve the final problem in which the answer is written on the “start here” problem. This strategy is also great in making sure that students are not practicing problems incorrectly because they cannot move on in the maze until they find the correct answer.
4. Beat the BuzzerBenefit: Beat the buzzer helps instill a sense of urgency in your students and is a great way for students to review for tests/quizzes. Directions: Each student needs to have a pre-made answer sheet to record work for each problem. Create an index card for each problem and establish an order in which the cards are to be passed around the room. Each student should start with a particular problem number and record the work to that answer on his or her answer sheet. Start the timer for a set amount of time that you want to give your students to complete each problem. When the timer buzzes, students pass their cards to the next student in the established rotation in your room. Typically, this activity is done silently to give a good measure of where students are in terms of mastery.
5. Find Someone WhoBenefit: Find Someone Who gets students to move around the room and practice problems at the same time. Directions: Students walk around the room and complete a problem on their classmates’ sheets. The student that answers the problem initials the box to indicate that he or she solved it. Students may only have a classmate sign their sheet once (this activity also really helps build classroom culture because students are reliant on each other to complete this activity).
6. WhiteboardsBenefit: Whiteboards are awesome and contain multiple purposes: 1) they invest students (they LOVE working on whiteboards); 2) allow for constant checks for understanding so that you always know where and for whom mastery is breaking down; 3) they can be used in groups or by individuals; and 4) you can make them yourself (you don’t need to buy them!). Directions: Present problems to the entire class and ask students to solve the problems on their whiteboards. When you say, “flip it,” the students should flip their boards to show the work they’ve done. Make sure you already have the answers written out for the problems you are presenting, so you can quickly and easily check which students have the correct answer.
7. Learning StationsBenefit: Learning stations gives students space to practice multiple skills during a class period. They change up the regular structure of a math classroom by allowing students to complete stations in an allotted amount of time. Learning stations are especially useful for quiz/test review. Directions: Learning stations are self-explanatory and very flexible. Use them as a review method with each station representing an objective that will be on the unit test or quiz. Students begin at one station, and when the buzzer goes off, students get up and move to the next station in the room. Consider placing pre-made packets at each station so students know what is expected at each location, and you’re able to assess their mastery.
8. BingoBenefit: Bingo is another great review game for quizzes / tests. Directions: Write a series of problems on transparency sheets and cut them up into little pieces. Pull a problem transparency piece, put it on the overhead, and ask students to solve the problem on their individual answer sheets. If they get a correct answer, they are able to cross off a square (any one they choose) on their BINGO cards. Feel free to work out a problem together if you feel like students need it. Students should be required to show all work on their answer sheets before declaring BINGO!
9. JeopardyBenefit: No introduction needed, Jeopardy is a popular review game, especially great for quiz/test prep. Directions: Use the same format as regular Jeopardy, except with your own problems and answers. Students LOVE this game. To ensure everyone participates, try Whiteboard-style Jeopardy. Put students in groups of four (again, make sure you pre-plan these groups) to form teams, and have them write numbers (1-4) on their whiteboards—one student writes the number 1, one student writes the number 2, etc. Put the Jeopardy answers on a projector or whiteboard. Then call out one number to provide the answer. (All students must solve the problem because they do not know which number you are going to choose.) This game is great for encouraging peer support.
What other math games do you use to increase class engagement and understanding?
By Bethany Petty
The increasing availability of classroom technology can help teachers create fun and helpful review activities for their students.
Check out these eight fantastic tools, all of which can be used to create awesome review activities for their students.
Don’t miss these other quiz and study resources and tools for your classroom:
Kahoot! is most definitely a staple in my classroom, as it is in many classrooms around the world. Teachers can quickly create review activities using the quiz, survey, discussion, or jumble features, or can choose from one of the millions of existing Kahoots! that have been created by people around the world.
Using the Kahoot! app, teachers can even assign Kahoot! games as homework for their students to complete outside of the classroom. Kahoot! also sends teachers reports after games are completed which provides excellent data they can use to drive instruction.
Another awesome, gamified review tool, Quizizz, provides students with the opportunity to review content while competing against their peers. Unlike Kahoot!, Quizizz questions and response options are displayed on individual student devices. The best feature of Quizizz, according to my students, is the meme they’re greeted with when they respond to a question!
One of my favorite options provided by Quizizz is the ability to easily search multiple games created by anyone and choose questions to include in my game. No need to reinvent the wheel to when it comes to gathering feedback from your students!
You’ve probably at least heard about Quizlet by now, and may have even relied on the wonderful term and definition combo provided by Quizlet at some point in your education. Quizlet is much more than just a flashcard creator and provides a great review opportunity for your students through it’s collaborative game option, Quizlet Live.
Teachers can create or use any flashcard deck when using Quizlet Live. As with Quizizz and Kahoot, students join the game with a pin, and enter their name. When all students have joined the game, the teacher starts the game. Quizlet then randomly assigns students to teams (if teachers have the premium Quizlet account, they can manually assign students to teams), with each team represented by a mascot, real, extinct, or fictional.
It’s always fun when the Unicorns, Dragons, T-Rexes, and Wooly Mammoths are competing for the win! Students must work together to answer 11 questions correctly in a row—if they miss even one question, they must start at the beginning. Quizlet Live is a great way to encourage collaboration and promote mastery learning.
Over the past year, Flipgrid has taken the world of education by storm. Christmas came early for teachers all over the world when Microsoft purchased Flipgrid over the summer, making the fantastic product free for everyone!
Flipgrid is a great tool for student reflection and communication, but can be awesome for review, too. Teachers can create a review topic on their class grid and post requirements for student replies. Teachers and classmates can then view and respond to student submissions, and create an ongoing review backchannel.
Flippity is an absolutely wonderful tool that doesn’t get as much attention as it deserves in the world of edtech. Teachers can easily create a wide variety of tools and resources for their classroom using Flippity’s Google Sheet Add-on or template.
A current favorite for review in my classroom is Bingo, which, as with all Flippity activities, is easily and quickly created using a Google Sheet and is therefore saved in the creator’s Google Drive. Teachers use Flippity to create flashcards, Bingo, game show style review games and more—bonus: it’s free!
QR Code Generator for Google Sheets
If you’ve read my book, Illuminate, you know that I am a huge fan of using QR Codes in my classroom. These strange-looking squares have so many uses in the classroom, including facilitating review games that encourage students to collaborate with their peers, review and apply concepts while using technology in a meaningful way.
While there are many QR Code creators available today, my favorite is the QR Code Generator Add-on for Google Sheets. In addition to being extremely easy to use, the QR Codes created by this Add-on are automatically saved in Google Drive, which means I never have to worry about misplacing the activity.
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My students recently completed a collaborative QR Code activity that required them to scan a QR Code, determine whether or not the scenario listed was a constitutional power of Congress by analyzing Article One of the Constitution. This is a fun way for students to work together to review and apply concepts they learn.
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I have been a huge Padlet fan for many years and use it frequently in my classroom for review activities. Prior to a test, I create a Padlet wall for my students that serves as a digital study session. I encourage students to post questions they have about content, points of confusion, things that can’t find in their notes for their study guide, etc., and reply to posts their classmates make.
This Padlet is shared with my students via Google Classroom and Remind. I also access the Padlet to offer clarifications and review as needed. This serves as a great review opportunity and also encourages students to have digital conversations about our content outside of the classroom.
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Heads Up is a wonderful app that teachers can easily use in their classrooms to review content, and have fun doing so. Simply download the Heads Up app ($.99) on your iOS or Android device and purchase a “build your own deck” to quickly create your review game. Title your deck and include important terms, people, and concepts from your unit.
Tip: Explain to your students that they should describe the terms to you using academic vocabular. For example, my students need to be frequently reminded as we’re playing that they need to describe the term to me using “government language” instead of “it starts with ‘st’ and ends with ‘ate’!”
Challenge your class to describe as many terms as possible within the minute provided. Extra challenge: try playing your Heads Up deck using no words. Have your students act out the term—this is not only super fun but also forces them to think about the term, people and conceptc in a different way.
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The increasing availability of technology in the classroom provides so many great opportunities for awesome review activities. How do you use technology to create fun review activities for your students?