Each time I’ve participated in a @Globalmathdept webinar I’ve learned something I could take back to my classroom and use almost immediately. This past Tuesday, I participated in the “Helping Struggling Students” webinar in which the game “Grudge” was introduced. As soon as I heard it, I knew I had to try it. So the very next day I did.

Feeling the name “Grudge” had a negative connotation, I changed it to “Last Person Standing” and explained the rules to the students.

Rules:

1. Each person starts out with 3 x’s.

2. Because we were working with solving equations, I would read the equation in word form. Students had to interpret the equations and solve for the unknown. This was done in their math notebooks to capture for note taking purposes.

3. Students were to record only the answer on the white board and hold it up when prompted by me.

4. Each student who solved the equation correctly would have a chance to erase an x on the board.

5. If you lost all 3 x’s you could no longer win. However, you could still play as a “ghost” or “zombie” and erase x’s.

The goal was to be the last person with an x by your name.

Excitement filled the air and the plotting began.

When watching this video, listen carefully to the buzz happening after students have determined the correct answer.

I don’t want it to seem like getting the correct answer was important to me. What was important was what the students were doing in order to position themselves to erase an x. SMP 1: students had to interpret the written equation in order to solve for the unknown (multiply 1/2 by a number then add 6 which is 10). SMP 2: students had to reason about the quantities. I did not teach them procedures for solving equations. Prior to this math review activity, we modeled equations using balance scales. Students determined two ways in which to determine the unknown, guess and check and use known information. The latter prompts the reasoning. For example, when solving 1/2x +6=10 a student explained, “I have to get to 10, so I did 10-6 and got 4. So I know 1/2x has to equal 4. Then I used guess and check to get 8.” We also discussed what we could do to get the unknown by itself. We call it keeping both sides equal. If we remove or add something on one side it has to be done to the other in order to keep both sides balanced. SMP5: students choose tools to use when they needed them. When guess and check didn’t work, they used a different method. For certain questions they recorded the information, others they could do mentally. And for some they whipped out a calculator. SMPs 6 and 7 were in there as well.

Our principal joined in the action during my 3rd academic class (I’m upset I didn’t get a picture). Upon leaving class, students would tell those waiting to come in what a fun game was awaiting them. There were many, “I had so much fun!” But my favorite one was, “Ms. Sexton, this game has broken up friendships!”