Prime Climb Puzzles

Let it be known that I am not a huge fan of math board games. That being established, I have tried on multiple occasions to create one that I like because the undeniable engagement factor is there. One of two things always seems to happen to my attempts: The game does nothing to change how students interact with the mathematics. Rather, it divulges into an attempt to get students to complete drills in order to win points of some type. Here, the math and the game exist as ostensibly separate entities.  The game mechanism does not support flexible mathematics without …

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TDC Math Fair 2016: A Summary

Background:On June 15th, my Grade 9 class and I hosted our second annual math fair. What started out as a small idea has grown into a capstone event of their semester. This year, we had 330 elementary school students visit our building to take part in the fair’s activities. Several people (following the hashtag #TDCMathFair2016) commented that they would like to do similar things with their student transitions. This post details the rationale behind the event, how we structured it, what stations we had, and feedback/advice from our exploits.Rationale:I pursued this opportunity with a two-pronged focus. First, I wanted to showcase a …

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(Min + Max) imize: A Classroom Game for Basic Facts

**this post was elaborated on in the May 2016 issue of The Variable from the SMTS.This is a game that was adapted from a colleague in my department. He can’t quite remember where it came from, but knows there was some influence from his undergraduate days. Nonetheless, he reinvented it to play with his Grade 9s, and this post represents yet another reinvention.   The game has a simple mechanism (dice rolling), and endless extensions to elaborate on and play with. These are both keys to a great classroom game (for me anyway).  (Min + Max) imize practices basic operations …

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Limbo: An Integers Game

Rationale: Create a game that embeds the skills of adding and subtracting integers into a conceptual decision making structure.Objective: Insert a set of integers into a 4-by-4 grid so that the sums of the rows and columns is a minimum. Game Set-up:All the students need is the game board and the list of sixteen numbers. The board consists of sixteen boxes arranged in a four-by-four array. Space is left between the boxes to insert the addition and subtraction signs. You can give the students a blank board and have them all fill in the operations to match a board projected in …

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Dice Auction

Every student has a gut feeling when it comes to probability, and I feel like I have been too quick to theorize their gut instincts in the past. This year to introduce Grade 9 probability, I decided to exploit gut feelings to introduce the topic. To do this, I needed a semi-familiar situation, some friendly competition, and a time pressure to make decisions. To fit these criteria, I invented the Dice Auction.Premise:You are invited to an auction, and given a budget of $10. Everyone at this auction has an identical budget. You all are bidding on possible events when two …

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Fraction War Task

A while ago I wrote a post on embedding atomic skills into tasks so that the basic skills are developed and used as tools of mathematics rather than the ultimate goal of mathematics. I try to develop tasks that follow this framework. I want the student to choose a pathway of thought that enables them to use basic skills, but doesn’t focus entirely on them.Recently, I was reading Young Children Reinvent Arithmetic: Implications of Piaget’s Theory by Constance Kamii and came across one of her games that she plays with first graders in her game-driven curriculum.The game was called double …

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The Guess Who Conundrum

Every so often, an idea comes out of left field. I woke up with this on my mind–must have been a dream. Back in the day, my family had a dilapidated copy of the game “Guess Who?” My siblings and I would take turns playing this game of deduction. You essentially narrowed a search for an opponent’s person by picking out characteristics of their appearance. http://www.flickr.com/photos/unloveable/2398625902/ I vividly remember playing with my younger sister one time at a family cottage. She–foolishly–chose a female person for me to identify. Anyone who has played the game before knows that the males far …

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Building the Proper Ecology

The beginning of semester poses many challenges–new classes to teach, names to learn, and class sizes to manage. No challenge is greater than building the correct atmosphere in the classroom while balancing the students’ preconceived notions about you, your class, and mathematics. (Hopefully not all three impressions are poor). Students talk. They let their friends know how your class runs. This is all the more reason to set the proper atmosphere, because a poor semester can follow you like a plague for semesters to come. I would like to propose that there is more to an effective class than the atmosphere. …

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Graphing Literacy

My school division has been pushing literacy for a few years now. The division priority has filtered its way down into many programs at the school level. As a basic premise, if students are exposed to literate people and perform literate activities, their skills will grow.  As the term is dissected, it seems that every stakeholder can find a way to skew the term to mean that their discipline is a crucial part of being literate. Reading and writing skills are an obvious avenue, but the ideas of technological and social literacy have emerged as important parts of every student’s …

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A Declaration of Independence

I used to be roommates with a magician. He kept all of his materials locked up in a trunk in our hall closet. Although he had devoted himself to the study of human psychology, I still convinced him to crack open the trunk and show me a trick from time to time. This experience was one of the most frustrating yet intellectually stimulating experiences of my life. I was a mathematics undergrad immersed in a stressful environment of number theory, numerical analysis, and abstract algebra. I was being trained to reason effectively, and his antics refreshed my perspective on reality. …

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