Math Mondays: Playing with skill development (part 1)

I'm lucky enough to get to completely differentiate math in my class. This means tgat I have students working across several grade levels and content areas. The students love the independence, the mastery learning and working at their own pace. No one is waiting for anyone else. 

 In practice it's easy to have this whittle down to just problem practice, and math can get kind of boring. Last year I started incorporating fun math as we called it - one day activities such as tessellations and fractals as well as larger projects and simulations which sometimes are whole class and sometimes small group for students with similar levels. But still in order to keep everyone challenged, kids spend a great deal of time practicing problems and I felt like I was just giving students the equivalent of endless worksheets. 

While the students definitely have to do the work, I set a goal to design creative ways to practice math concepts. The first thing I tried was scavenger hunts. I give the students a list of clues that have yield a number such as this is a prime number between but not including 5 and 11 (answer 7). Students look for the problem that matches that answer. I can have students work on it individually.  

Recently, I discovered that I could come up with the same set of answers and then students had problems that applied to what they were learning (ratios, fractions, decimals) that gave that answer but I could have different skills going at the same time. FABULOUS!  So while one student was solving one step linear equations to find 7 another was adding fractions to get 7.   It definitely has been an improvement to the time we need to spend just practicing skills.

In part 2 I'll share my next favorite new tip: concentration, but until next week what are some of your favorite ways to play with skill practice without just doing drill and kill?  Would love to hear about them.  And as always, check out this week's link up to some math ideas.

Math Mondays is a weekly post sharing tips, ideas, resources, and products for teaching math.  If you have questions or think there is something I should share, you can leave me a message on Facebook or at the store in the question and answer section.



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