This last week of school was a weird one. Monday and Tuesday were normal. My Algebra 1 students started factoring quadratic trinomials with a leading coefficient of one. My Algebra 2 students started graphing basic exponential functions and their transformations. On Wednesday, my students had a substitute while I took my student council kids to our district meeting. The speaker at our meeting was Lance Lang, and I really enjoyed listening to his message of hope. I was inspired to do a better job in my classroom of being a dealer of hope.
On Thursday, my school took two buses full of students to the state softball tournament. Our girls did an awesome job, and they advanced to the next level of competition. On Friday, my school, again, took two buses full of students to the state tournament. Normally, we have around 160-180 students in the school building. For the past two days, we've only had around 60 students in the building. This means that there was no way that I can go on with my intended lesson plans. Approximately a third of the remaining students did not go to the softball game due to their ineligibility. So, these students have been able to spend the past two days getting missing assignments completed and turned in. I've worked hard to help these students get their missing work caught up! Making sure a dozen students are all on task when they are all doing something different is a monumental task!
Friday morning, we had our students for the first two periods of the day before they boarded the bus for the tournament. Second period, I used this as an opportunity to measure where my Algebra 2 students currently stand with exponent rules. We are currently in the midst of our third unit of the year: Exponential Functions and Exponent Rules. Based on their responses, I'm not going to have to do quite as much reteaching as I thought. We finished with the exponent exploration with about 20 minutes of class left to spare.
Since it was Friday and game day, my students really wanted to play another game. One student begged to play "Heads Up Seven Up." I told him that we couldn't play that because it wasn't a math game. Of course, he argued that it was a math game because it had a number in the title. Instead, I offered to let them have a Rock, Paper, Scissors Tournament. Immediately, their interest was piqued. Of course, I had to put a mathematical spin on it.
Several months ago, I ran across a short video clip on pinterest of a brain break that involved Rock, Paper, Scissors and multiplication. I thought it was a cute idea, and I filed it away in my brain.
I actually let my students choose any number of fingers from one to five, instead of the one to four mentioned in the video. So, the premise is simple. Students say "Rock, Paper, Scissors," and then they throw out the number of fingers of their choosing. They look at their number of fingers and their competitor's number of fingers, and the first one to correctly multiply the two numbers together and say the answer aloud wins.
I'm pretty sure that this activity is meant for younger students, but my Algebra 2 students loved it.
My plan was for students to pair up and play a round. The winners would remain standing. The non-winners (sounds better than losers) would take a seat. Then, we would continue until a winner was crowned. My students were not satisfied with this plan. After all, if this is a tournament, we might as well go all out.
So, a tournament bracket was made. I quickly googled a website that made brackets. I typed in all of my students' names. Consequently, I shocked all of my students with my ability to type without looking at my fingers. They were amazed. Apparently, it sounds like bullets are shooting when I am typing. I guess my students aren't used to hearing someone type over a hundred words a minute.
I took a screen shot of the tournament bracket and put it up on the Smart Board.
The competition was intense. Instead of playing multiple games at once, everybody watched as each pair competed. The rest of the class served as judges as to who answered first. If I was to do this over again, I would have everybody play a few practice rounds before beginning the tournament. That would have solved a lot of our problems.
Also - I would change the rules to say that only the first answer you say counts. I still have quite a few students who struggle with their basic multiplication facts, so this was a nice review for them. The engagement level during this activity was AMAZING. I would love to adapt this activity to feature review of an Algebra 1 or Algebra 2 topic. Ideas? My Algebra 2 kids are never this engaged, and I would love to harness this power!
Oh, and the winner received a much-coveted award. (They got to pick their certificate.) I'm pretty sure I could get my kiddos to do anything for one of these awards. The tournament champion was actually a student that I had last year for Algebra 1. She never won an award in Algebra 1, so she was very, very, very excited to finally win one this year.