So, after the quiz grades, here’s what I did. I gave them a worksheet that basically asked “What went wrong?” They individually analyzed their own work, and tried to put into words why they lost points for each question. It was good for a few reasons. One: it was individual. Two: it made them get over the initial shock of a bad grade. So, the student who immediately threw his on the floor, declaring he was stupid was forced to take a closer look. And you know what he found? Careless errors. Things in the questions he just didn’t pick up on. So, he felt silly for making those mistakes but didn’t feel stupid at math. Score!
Then after looking at the responses, the majority of responses were “I didn’t understand the question.” Or “I thought the question meant…” The next day we spent time analyzing questions. READING math. We talked about looking for anything to start with. Does it say make a table? Great! Start there. Even if you don’t know the variables to put in the table, you can at least set it up. Draw the lines at least. Now, you’ve started, and when I look at it I can tell you put some thought into it. You did something! The test is tomorrow. We’ll see how that goes.
Equations Around the World
Many times, I’ve thought that I don’t have many exciting lessons to share, but there is an activity I use to review skills that I thought would be fun to share. I call it Equations Around the World, but you can insert any skill you need. It works best with skills that have clear answers. So you could use it with simplifying, adding, any sort of computation, or anything with a beginning and end. Even vocab could work.
The students can pick any card to start with. They open it up and see this:
They solve that equation and the answer is on the front of another card. Once you find the answer, go to that card, open it up and solve that equation. Continue this until you end up with the card you started with. Can’t find your answer? Then you made a mistake. Go back, check your work and do it again. The students like it because it gets them up and moving. They get practice without having to look at a board or at a book, and I get to just follow them around, see how they’re doing and answer any questions. I usually get more questions than usual during this activity. I think students are more likely to ask questions when the atmosphere seems more casual. One word of warning to teachers who are making one of these: It doesn’t work if you have the same answer more than once. So make sure each problem has a unique answer. Happy solving!