I often have trouble thinking of meaningful games to play in my remedial algebra class. These are the students who are most disengaged with traditional teaching, but they are often also the hardest to play games with … the same things that made them not-so great students, make them not-so great at listening to the rules of a game, or at playing it correctly without supervision.
But last class they had to do some tough solving of equations with fractions, and then today there was a quiz at the end of class… they looked so bored, and so unengaged. I had to try to think of something out of the ordinary to do to lift their spirits a bit.
We were doing the intro to translating word problems into algebra, and instead of putting up a table of all the operations and “key words,” I made it into a game.
I put up “addition” and in groups, they had to think of as many words as they could that tell you in a word problem that there is going to be addition. They got 1 point for everything they thought of that I said yes to and *two* points if they thought of one no other group had. Then we did subtraction, then we did multiplication, then division. I played against the class for multiplication, convinced that none of them would think of ”product” and”double” and “triple,” but I was beat out my two of the groups who thought of those and more.
Then we did the usual “Three more than twice a number is 13″ and they had to translate that, and they were much more into it!
At the end of class, when when they had to take the quiz on solving, they did much better than usual. I like to think that being in a good frame of mind helped.