Monday's seem to be my worst day of the week. I give a weekly grade report to students, and, it never fails, there are certain students that throw fits, argue that they turned assignments in, or dispute every grade given back. My classes are not hard, but the key is-don't miss class. Many of my students have picked up on this. Anyways, I was determined to make today a high energy, fun day. I did and it was a great day. My favorite was, surprisingly, my Algebra 1 classes.

We reviewed for tomorrow's test by answering questions as a team competing with other teams. I wrote down 3 sets of the same problems on different colored paper and gave each group a set. We used marker boards.

(GREAT IDEA: GO TO LOWES OR HOME DEPOT AND HAVE A SHEET ($12) OF TILE BOARD CUT UP INTO MINI WHITEBOARDS FOR YOUR STUDENTS. They will cut them for you!)

How it works:

The students may choose to work together or split up the questions and work individually. Once they solve the problem, a student raises their hand and I come around to check. If right on the first try, they get three tokens. If incorrect, I usually provide some guidance or show a incorrect step. For the second attempt, if correct, they receive two tokens. If incorrect, try a third time for one token. Today, all of my students answered it by the second round. I made sure to monitor and provide verbal cues.

THEY LOVED THIS!!! We all had so much fun.

In the beginning, I tried to keep exact track of the number of attempts; however, they got so into it that it wasn't worth the concern. It turned out to be better to reward them for their effort and energy than to try and focus on the specifics.

My 5th period played the game right and took their time solving and collaborating. (Mostly girls.)

However, my 8th period (all boys) figured out how to cheat the system. My policy for the game is that I have to see your work. I'm much more observant than my students give me credit. They figured out that if they solved and answered correctly, then they could quickly show another teammate how to correctly answer the question to accumulate points faster. At first, I was going to deny them this strategy, but I then saw them teaching and collaborating on strategies. A class that usually struggles with engagement was blowing my mind with enthusiasm and hard work.

I really enjoyed this activity because of the diversity it produced with the learning. I had some students teaching, and others learning from peers. I saw a lot of different strategies used to solve the same problem, heard debates over which method is better, and observed a classroom full of pride and determination.

I'm very excited to see how we do on the test tomorrow.