(Min + Max) imize: A Classroom Game for Basic Facts
**this game is part of a larger collection of classroom games entitled, 16 Boxes: Ten Numeracy Routines for the Classroom available (for free) at this link.
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.
Each game begins with a structure. The structure is composed of a series of blanks (for the 10-sided dice rolls) and operations linking the blanks together in various ways. The students can clearly see how many rolls of the die will occur (one per blank) and copy the structure before the game begins. When all students are ready, the die is rolled. After each roll, the value must be placed in a blank. It is illegal to wait until all the rolls are complete to make choices; it is also illegal to switch a choice after it is made. (Although, when students try this, it allows me to see their thinking very clearly).
Before each round, decide what the target should be. I usually play three rounds. In the first round, we try to maximize the result. In the second round, we try and minimize the result. In the third round, we try and get a result as close to zero as possible. Each round, the structure of the operations is altered and the die is re-rolled. After all the numbers are rolled, I circulate and collect “high scores” from students.
Be creative with your game structures. I have had the most success with 4-5 blanks. After that, calculations can become a hindrance. As your classes get better, division and exponents are a great way to stretch their thinking. I have provided a few of the structures I use, but most are improvised in the moments of teaching in response to student’s needs.