4 Frameworks for Math Scavenger Hunts

4 Frameworks for Math Scavenger Hunts


 

4 frameworks for math scavenger hunts

Do your math practice activities have students saying things like:

“This was fun!”

“Let’s do more practice like this!”

“This was favorite activity so far this year!”

Well, they can! Utilize math scavenger hunt practice activities. In this post, I’ll share 4 frameworks for math scavenger hunts.

AROUND THE ROOM

In this format, one practice problem is written on each station. The answer to the problem can be found at the top of another station. Students move around the classroom solving one problem at a time in a specific order. Around the room scavenger hunts increase classroom engagement and participation. Aligned with brain-based learning research, the movement involved in this type of activity increases understanding and retention.

Try it out with this free Order of Operations Scavenger Hunt!

angle relationships scavenger hunt



DIGITAL

Created to accommodate remote learners, digital scavenger hunts are perfect for both at-home and in-class practice. Instead of moving around a classroom, they drag-n-drop digital cards in a particular order. These self-checking activities can only be completed in one specific order, so if students hit a roadblock, they know they need to regroup and check over their previously completed problems. Digital scavenger hunts foster independence and technological proficiency.

the distributive property digital scavenger hunt



SEATED

Designed in response to a small classroom space, students sit at their desks as they cut and paste the practice tasks. Students who are tactile, hands-on learners will enjoy being able to pick up and move around the station cards. Students can arrange all of the cards before gluing them down on paper in order to confidently take risks and complete the assignment. You can access a free template here.

geometry basics seated scavenger hunt


INTERDISCIPLARY

State tour scavenger hunts are so fun! Students travel around the classroom learning all about a particular state as they solve math problems. Each completed problem sends students to another city within the state. They keep track of their travel route on an accurate state map.
nh state tour scavenger hunt



Which is your favorite? Do you have another type of scavenger hunt that your students enjoy? Comment below to continue the conversation!

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Perfect for middle school or high school math, these 4 scavenger hunt frameworks are sure to engage your students in meaningful math practice.

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Using Bloom to Help Learning BOOM

Using Bloom to Help Learning BOOM


 

Bloom Post Header

THE PROBLEM: Students are entering the school year with widely variable math skills. We need to find a way to teach the class while modifying for students who are significantly behind as well as those who are quite advanced.

THE SOLUTION: Let's look to the research. Bloom's Taxonomy is a great place to start when differentiating content by readiness.

According to Bloom, there are six levels of tasks that we can use to engage our students: remember, understand, apply, analyze, evaluate, and create. We can differentiate by transitioning our focus to different levels of the pyramid. Select a particular topic. For that topic, create tasks that align to each of the six categories. Students can work on basic level questioning if they are still trying to develop a strong foundation of the math concept. Then as they gain more confidence and background knowledge they can climb Bloom's Taxonomy to the higher order thinking questions.

Bloom's Taxonomy

Let's dissect what types of instructions you could pose at each level of Bloom's Taxonomy.

REMEMBER

Solve the equation.
Graph the function.
Complete the table.
Calculate the sum.

UNDERSTAND

Show how you know.
Explain your thinking.
Give an example.
Estimate the total.

APPLY

Write an equation to model the scenario.
Solve the word problem.
Demonstrate the theorem.
Interpret the scatter plot.

ANALYZE

Compare and contrast the two strategies.
Categorize the polygons.
Classify the real numbers.
Deduce the big idea.

EVALUATE

Make a conjecture.
Identify the error.
Correct the mistake.
Prove the quadrilateral is a rectangle.

CREATE

Make an equation with the given parameters.
Design a prism with a set volume.
Devise a plan to show something is true.
Build a model.


It is important for all students to access information at different levels of Bloom's Taxonomy. However, entry points may differ. Students who need additional support at the start of a unit may focus on basic remember and understand tasks. Other students may already have a solid foundation and can enter the concept midway up the pyramid. Offering a variety of questioning types is key.

For additional examples of math questions aligned to Bloom's Taxonomy, download these free two-step equation task cards!

Free Download of Task Cards

Let's continue the conversation! Do you use Bloom's Taxonomy when designing worksheets and assessments for your students? What questions do you have about implementation? Comment below!

Bloom pin

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3 Truths All Math Teachers Need to Hear Today

3 Truths All Math Teachers Need to Hear Today


 

3 truths all math teachers need to hear today cover photo

We literally cannot do it all. There I said it.

I can't scroll through Facebook or Instagram without being inundated with all the tips and tricks and strategies that we must do in order to meet the needs of all learners.

I love new ideas. I love research and learning. But gosh, it's a lot right now!

Feeling the same way?

Read on as I share the 3 truths that you really need to hear today.

Try one new strategy at a time. 

You do not need to have a Pinterest-perfect classroom or Instagram-worthy lesson in order to be an incredible math teacher. Sure, there are lots of great strategies out there: flipped classroom, one-to-one technology, math centers, interactive notebooks, games. But the truth is, you cannot do it all. The last thing we want is for teachers to become overwhelmed and burned out. If you're feeling refreshed and inspired and ready to try something new, choose one strategy or activity to implement. Get really good at that one thing by trying it again and again with different topics. Train your students how to successfully participate in this one thing. Then, and only then, should you consider adding something else to your teacher toolbox. And if you're not feeling like you can add one more thing to your plate right now, then don't. I am giving you permission today to not change a darn thing. You are enough. The fact that you show up for your students every day and do the best you can is enough. That leads me to truth number two.

the last thing we want is for teachers to become overwhelmed and burned out

Positive classroom climate makes the greatest impact.

You can try every strategy under the sun, and if there isn't consistent two-way respect in your classroom, nothing will have the impact you're hoping for. Relationships between students and teachers are boss. Your students need to know that you care, they are loved, and they are safe. Ask your students about their interests and hobbies. Use growth-mindset language to convey that you believe in them. Create an atmosphere where students are comfortably able to take risks without the fear of judgement or ridicule. Positive classroom climate has the greatest impact on student success. There will be plenty of pressure to improve test scores and use more technology and try this latest, greatest, flashy teaching tool. But I am urging you to build a positive learning environment first. Take time to talk to your students about things other than math. Get to know their strengths and challenges. Reach out to families about successes, as well as challenges. Once this foundation is set, then everything else will fall into place.

students are loved image

Meet students where they are.

Math confidence is key to student motivation and engagement. Students who struggle, and are not given the proper scaffolding, are going to give up. Don't let this happen. Don't let a stringent curriculum and textbook shape the learning experience for your students. Determine the skills that your students are entering with and start there. This could be accomplished via a brief pre-assessment or teacher observations. Build student confidence by starting with what they know and building on that prior knowledge - even if they are not up to grade level yet. Start with the basics and climb from there. Make clear connections between concepts to help students make the leap. Maybe you feel like there's not enough time to teach skills that should have been mastered in previous school years. I am encouraging you to do just that. Teach what your students need. Once their foundation is strong and confidence is high, the rest of the year will flow much more easily. Build a math class that is equal parts accessible and rigorous. Show students that they can do it.

3 truths blog post pin for pinterest

So, math educator, will you let go of some of the pressure you're feeling please? Commit now to trying no more than one new strategy at a time, building a positive classroom climate first, and meeting students where they are starting. Do all of these things within your own comfort zone or just beyond it (scaffolding!). You've got this.

Comment below with other advice for teachers heading back to school this fall. What is a truth you want all math teachers to know?

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How to Differentiate Instruction in Math without the Stress of Creating New Resources

How to Differentiate Instruction in Math without the Stress of Creating New Resources


 

Differentiate instruction in math without stress

Differentiating math instruction can often feel like just another thing to do. You may believe that you don't have time to differentiate or perhaps you think you can't make it work with the resources you have been given. I will debunk those misconceptions in this post. You do have time, and I would even argue, that you are probably already differentiating instruction more than you think. You can differentiate without the stress of creating new resources. According to Westman (2020), "[Differentiating instruction] may be the single most important instructional move right now." In today's environment, especially, we must explore and reflect on our students' needs, and differentiate instruction in order to engage students in a productive and positive learning environment that will lead to greater math confidence and higher achievement. Are you ready? Let's dive in!

Case made for differentiated math instruction


PROVIDE OPEN-ENDED ACTIVITIES

Consider Bloom's Taxonomy when planning open-ended math activities. When students engage in higher order thinking, they are better able to self-regulate and self-adjust their learning based on difficulty level or personal interest. 

Bloom's Taxonomy

Assigning tasks that involve remembering and understanding are an important foundation, but we mustn't stop there. Ask students to create an expression with set parameters, select an equation that does not belong with the others and justify their answer, or develop and test a conjecture about patterns they see within a discovery lesson. 

create an expression example

Students will be able to self-differentiate because of the wiggle room within the assignment. Some students may create a basic expression while others will challenge themselves with more. When identifying an equation that does not belong, I accept any choice as long as there is a logical and reasonable explanation for why that choice was made. The flexibility in problems like these allows students to think freely and engage in the process without worrying as much about the final answer. When discovering concepts in math, some students will stick with concrete thinking and write down observations, while others may be able to extend their thinking to formulas or connections between concepts. Students should be encouraged to work to the best of their ability. With practice and encouragement, students can work to climb Bloom's Taxonomy throughout the year.


GIVE STUDENTS CHOICES

Copy two different worksheets and allow students to choose. This can 100% be done with existing resources. For example, after a couple of days of simplifying algebraic expressions, offer two versions of in-class practice. The first may have multiple steps, but positive numbers only in order to remove the integer barrier for students who struggle with that sub-concept. This will allow them to instead focus on the new concepts of distributing then combining like terms. There will be other opportunities for them to incorporate integers, but for the sake of mastery the new concept it is helpful to remove that barrier. The second option may include negatives for those students who feel ready. They can take on the added challenge of simplifying algebraic expressions with negatives, especially if they have already mastered the sub-topic, integers.

Differentiation Pin


UTILIZE TOOLS LIKE KUTA SOFTWARE

Kuta software takes the stress out of differentiation by quickly creating the worksheets you need with just a few clicks. The free version has a library of hundreds of ready-made math worksheets with answer keys included. Differentiate by choosing two very similar lessons. For example, print copies of the Two-step equations worksheet and the Multi-step equations worksheet. You can allow students to choose or monitor more closely using another strategy, Level Up. In the Level Up strategy, all students start with the simpler worksheet. Some students will continue to work only through this practice throughout the remainder of the time. Other students may choose to level up. If they get 5 problems correct in a row, they may choose to level up and move on to the more challenging problems. They first demonstrate mastery, and you can have them check in with you if you prefer, then they take on the next set of problems. Bonus: have multiple levels available so students can continue to level up more than once.

kuta software image

There is also a paid version that allows you to customize the worksheets more extensively with just a few clicks (see the above image). If your district has allotted funds for math technology, this may be something to consider investing in.


VARY LEVELS OF SUPPORT

You introduce a new math concept at the front board using a couple of models. That's enough information for most of the students to be able to jump right into a practice activity with little support. Scaffold the new material for a pre-identified subset of students by working with them in a small group. In the small group, continue the instruction and have students demonstrate "try" problems in front of you. This is an opportunity for you to use different models and explanations. Make the concept more concrete, use manipulatives, draw pictures, or whatever makes sense for the particular math topic in order to make it more accessible to students who may have skill gaps or general difficulties within the unit. Once they have had their aha moment, send them back to their seat to proceed with the rest of the class. This is a great way to differentiate for students with different learning styles or who need a somewhat slower pace to get acquainted with the math concept.


Now you know that you can differentiate instruction in math without the stress of creating new resources! 

  1. BE STRATEGIC in the types of questions you ask. Higher order thinking questions naturally allow students to self-differentiate.
  2. GIVE STUDENTS CHOICES. With some coaching and discussion, you can train your students to correctly identify which version of the practice they should choose.
  3. UTILIZE SOFTWARE that auto-populates math practice worksheets for you. Choose your topics and print.
  4. SCAFFOLD MATH for your students by providing additional support with whom it's most needed.


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