I love card sort days. I love days where students do math with out writing anything down, except for the things they want or need to write down. I love days when you can be wrong and there is no need to erase, grab more paper, or start over. I love days when my laziest kid ends up doing just as much work as my overachiever... and doesn't even know it! TRICKED YA!
I know I am not the only person who feels like students need practice, and lots of it, to solidify a new skill or concept. There's a whole world of research (some good, some not, some contradictory) that discusses at length how many times, and for how long, and for how frequent students need to revisit skills to really retain that information. But handing out worksheet after worksheet seems like a rather boring and socially isolating option. Here is my first way to disguise the worksheet and create an activity that is not only more engaging but also allows for more connections, more communication, and more organized chaos!
SWBAT: Students will be able to calculate the measures of interior angles, the measures of exterior angles, or the number of sides of polygons given any one of the other pieces of information.
First I created a table and filled in all the answers. It looked like this:
Then I took away 3 out of the 4 numbers in each row, leaving just one piece of information given. I made sure to rotate the given information so that it allowed for different starting places each time:
Then, I copied the completed table on colored paper and the empty table on white paper. The colored table got cut up into little cards and put in envelopes, one for each pair of students in my class. Shout out to my awesome TA's who are always so willing to cut paper for me!
Students then spent the ENTIRE fifty two minute period sorting the cards onto the table. The beautiful thing is that each blank in the table represents a question that could have easily been on a worksheet. This means that this card sort is like a 30 problem worksheet, but in this method students have a lot of flexibility for how they choose to sort the cards. They can rely on connections between the measurements they feel confident about and be pushed and pressed into developing connections they are still working on. Some of the rows were especially challenging since we have never explicitly talked about how to work "backwards" to find the side length or sum when given an interior angle.
The best part for me is the talking. Partners are talking. A lot. They are teaching each other, challenging each other, arguing with each other, justifying their thinking to each other, and using each other as a resource for knowledge. Its beautiful.
When kids are done they put the little cards back in the envelope and leave the empty mat on their desks. No writing required (but let's be real... there's a lot of scratch work & scribbling going on). You will also notice that students had their notebooks out with them with our notes from yesterday. I also allowed some students to fill in a blank table (with writing, not cards) if they wanted to add it to their notebooks after the activity was over, but it wasn't required. The notes looked like this (doesn't Ashley have the best note taking skills EVER!?):
Thirty problems in fifty two minutes with no whining, complaining or groaning? I'll take it any day!