When I came into this position last year, I was presented with binders and binders of worksheets....they were even labeled WS 1-WS 149 or something like that.... not fun (for me or my kids). So, I was constantly searching for ways to use these worksheets in a way that would keep my kids engaged.
Today we took a typical worksheet.... and turned it into a game!
My team uses this idea throughout the year and change it just a bit depending on the time of the year. Since it is February... we played Candy Hearts for Valentines Day :) We have also used Ghost in Graveyard, Needle in haystack, etc.
When the kids came in- 5 red hearts were hanging around the room. Cue excitement. They knew a game was coming, and they know my rule: when we are playing a game- 3 strikes and you're out. If I have to address your behavior as a class 3 times, no more game...boring, individual worksheet time.
My students sit in groups and work in groups almost every day so they are familiar with group procedures. First we picked candy groups, then each student received a worksheet. Each student is responsible for his/her own understanding and work. The students work on the assignment together and after every 2 questions (they must all agree, they must all be finished, it isn't a race), 1 student from the group brings me his or her paper. If both answers are correct, the student was rewarded with a candy. If either answer (or both) are incorrect I tell the student to return and re-think. I do not say which are wrong or how many are wrong....they need to figure that part out.
Here are my favorite things about this activity-
- Kids are discussing the problems. Some argue and yes, there are disagreements at times. But if I can get kids to care about math enough to argue about it....that is pretty cool.
- Kids are engaged. I typically choose my active children to be the "representatives" of the group. They bring me the paper to be checked and they attach candy to hearts... this gives those guys a chance to get up and move.
- Behavior is awesome. My kids have been pushing buttons lately...but today they were awesome. They wanted to play the game- not have to complete the worksheet individually.
- The "smartest" kids don't always win. Because of the element of luck in the point system, sometimes my lower students end up with more points which really boosts their confidence.
- It allows me to see where kids are stuck and what mistakes they are making throughout class...not at the end when they've turned the assignment in and its too late.