Trying new methods in your classes is a great way to keep you and your students interested. My Google Reader now has over 100 great Math blogs. It is here that I often get inspiration to try new ideas.

For example: Sue VanHattum at Math Mama Writes, posted on Dec 4, 2010 Math Game: Risk Your Beginning Algebra Skills.

Here is my worksheet following the same method. My Year 10 students enjoyed the game format and when I surveyed the class, 90% wanted me to repeat the game later in the year.

The format has a number of advantages:

1. Students are motivated by the game format.

2. Champion or Most Improved (using multiplying factor) winning categories are seen as achievable by all or most students.

3. Students pay careful attention to solutions to see if their solution is correct and hence they can add on points.

I introduced the rule that you must gamble a minimum of 5 points on each question. It soon became evident that some students were high risk players, others were very conservative. By question 5, one student lost all their points and begged to be allowed to borrow points from a friend!

By question 9 excitement was building. Bruce was well in the lead, then forgot to collect like terms! His explosion had now bought other players into a winning position. Kate looked to be the likely winner until she factorized x2 – 5x – 104 to equal (x + 13)(x – 8). Because of the impact these mistakes had, I don’t think these students are likely to make the same mistakes again.

And so finally Matt was declared champion and Angus most improved!

Thanks Sue for a great lesson idea!

I have been teaching Mathematics in Victorian secondary schools for 30 years. I use the www to make my maths lessons better. I hope this blog will give other teachers some ideas to try in their own classes.
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### 3 Responses to Risk Your Algebra Skills

1. You’re welcome!

I think it may work better in high school than in college. My students are generally too stressed just before a test to even want to play a game. I haven’t used it yet this semester, but I keep hoping the time will eventually feel right, because I enjoyed it myself.

Your file is .docx, so I can’t see it. If you’d like to send me a .doc version, I’d love to see it.

I’m glad I was able to explain my multiplier well enough for you to use it. (Did you do it the same way?)

2. webmaths says:

Thanks for your comment Sue! I worked out the multiplier the same as you. The biggest multiplier was 3.0 but I was tempted to square this, giving a range of multipliers from 1.0 to 9.0. I think I will do this next time to help the weaker students even more. I will reload the document as .doc and will put it on scribd as well so you can access it. Kind regards, Jeff.

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