The thing about teaching is that every day is a new lesson, a new topic, and in general, a large amount of prep work. Some days, class consists of a matching activity that has been differentiated based on each students’ individualized MAP score. #winning There are other days when I need something quick and easy to implement. Today’s post is all about how to turn any worksheet into an activity with little or no preparation time!
Turn any worksheet into an activity
- Prep Time: 15 seconds
- Materials: Whiteboard and Expo marker
First, assign one half of the classroom as Xs and the other half as Os. The goal is simple: get three in a row before the opposing team does. I sketch 4-5 tic-tac-toe boards and explain to students that after their table finishes two problems, one person from their table can place an X or an O.
In order to place the X or the O, they have to be correct, they have to have shown their math strategies, they have to include __________ (units, formulas, etc), and everyone at their table has to have it complete. They show me the symbol for done, I come and check, and if everything looks good, then they can come to the board and place an X/O. They compete on one game board until there is a win, and then students will play on the next game board.
2. Magnet Race
To set it up, you need to either draw a number line on the board or project one on a whiteboard. This activity is fashioned much like tic-tac-toe. Students have to complete a few problems with the criteria for success that I have explained; then, as tables finish the allotted number of problems, I check their work and tell them to “make a move.”
The two magnets begin at 0. As students make a move, they can choose to move their team’s magnet in the positive direction two spaces or they can move the opposing team’s magnet one space in the negative direction. Whichever team has their magnet at a greater value by the time the timer goes off wins.
This is a very engaging activity that does tend to get a little heated, so I usually don’t introduce moving the opponent’s magnet in a negative direction until I think students can handle it. Some classes never get to do that, and that’s okay. You can also make more challenging problems worth more spaces to give it more variety.
3. Math Dates
- Prep Time: 2 minutes
- This is best with a study guide/review or when you need to practice word problems
In my classroom, students are almost always assigned to a table and/or a partner to work with. So, math dates are a fun way for them to have choice. Students will draw a clock (circle) and label the times 12:00, 3:00, 6:00, and 9:00. Then, I set the timer for two minutes and students move around the room to set a date at each time slot. At the end each student should have four different partners. Inevitably the first time you do this, someone will mess it up and write down the wrong name at the wrong time, but it’s an easy fix.
Once students are back in their seats, you will call out a time, and students will move to that partner and work on whichever problems you assign.
For example, “Find your 3:00 partner and work questions 3, 7, and 9.”
At that time, I might have a student who doesn’t have a date, so they come see me and I set them up on a “blind date.” Your students may or may not be able to handle the word “date,” so you can always call these math appointments!
Cover tables with brightly colored butcher paper. Then, provide various markers to students. Project math problems on the board, and have students complete problems grafitti style on the paper. This allows students to feel like they are doing something really special when actually all they are doing is math! Who am I kidding? Math is really special!
Many of my students will write larger since they have lots more space, and many will even incorporate colors into their strategies. It also makes checking work easier because you can see it by just walking by. To be honest, I have not done this activity in my classroom, but my fellow math teacher (shout out Ms. Henry!) has had success, so I plan to try it ASAP. She used it during independent practice to prepare for STAAR.
Do you have any go to activities? What are your students’ favorites? I would love to hear your other ideas for how to turn any worksheet into an activity.