Really, could I help being nosy when I happened upon Master Teacher Lisa lining up chairs in the hallway? Were her students going to play musical chairs? This I had to see. How fortuitous to come back early from lunch! My wait wasn’t long as eight students filled the middle chairs. The end polar chairs had true and false distinctions and remained empty. Each side of four comprised a team. Each team was required to select a name dealing with money. Credit Captains and Money Thug$ listened skeptically as the directions were explained.
Directions: The back-to-back pair in the blue seats would compete. A true or false question would be read. The first runner to sit in the correct answer chair would score a point for their team. Each team would then slide down a seat so that a new pair was sitting in the hot spot.
The first student run was halfhearted, I admit, but the seasoned teacher simply smiled and continued as before. By the third question, the spirit of competition kicked in, and the race was truly on. Prior to the game, a student had to be admonished by the instructor to get their feet off the locker. Now to create a clear path, teammates were saying, “Tuck in your feet.” Students in the hot seat stretched out their legs toward one chair and leaned forward. With no incentive, no carrot prize dangling at the end of the game, one of the Thug$ began chanting (very unthuggishly), “T-H-U-G, Thug,” each time a point was scored. Students automatically slid down without being asked. The student population you wonder? A mixed ability CTE class of high school sophomores and juniors. Where were the other students? Diligently playing a game with special cards in the nearest classroom. Differentiation and Active Learning — Teaching at its best!
Could this game be used in other content areas?
Well, would a large bank of True or False questions be useful to other subjects? The questions were delivered orally somewhat limiting the complexity of the question. (Should the first three questions be fairly easy, almost sample questions to get the game going?) Why limit the chairs to True or False? Do you have topics that require snap determination? For example, in Algebra students must interpret the discriminant of a quadratic equation. There are three rather than two possibilities, but why couldn’t we add a middle section. Obviously a normal chair wouldn’t work in the middle, but a stool or square on the floor created by masking tape would. Students could make a snap decision about Linear Systems. There are three types of systems: consistent independent, consistent dependent, and inconsistent (or intersecting, parallel, or coinciding lines). Why not Evaluating Expressions? Create a series of expressions that simplify to either 0 or 1 [Ex: 3^0, 3^2-3(3), 0/(pi + 4)]. Another possibility is perhaps Simplifying Radicals. Are these radicals simplified as far as possible: Yes or No? For Algebra, a visual representation of the question seems imperative but easy to add.
Thanks Lisa for sharing!
Dawn is a secondary Algebra teacher in Maryland with a B.S. in Secondary Mathematics Education and a Masters in Information Science and Learning Technologies.