Monday, April 9, 2012

Math Dominos

We're down to the last three weeks of classes and then it's finals week!  At our school, all College Algebra students take the same final, and if they don't pass the final, they don't pass the class.

No pressure.

Actually, in all honesty, we have about a 97% college-wide pass rate, but it's still nerve-wracking giving a final that you, as an instructor, have never seen.  So, today we started reviewing.  With dominos.

We started with the 6/6 domino in the middle of the floor with the rest of the dominos spread out around it.  From there, each team was given a set of four problems.

Let's say Group 1's answer to their first question is 2.  Then they are to find the 6/2 domino and place it in their team's slot.  On to the next question, whose solution, let's say, is also 2.  Then they find the 2/2 domino and place it next to their first domino.  The first team to finish their row of four dominos wins.

I'm not gonna lie, this game took a bit of prep work.  I started out by creating the following domino creation (the pack I bought came with that nifty plastic octagon--perfect!).  I did this to ensure that no domino would need to be used more than once.


Each "ray" represents a team's problems.  So, from here I had to create problems that had the correct solutions.  For example, looking at the leftmost ray, I had to create four problems that had solutions of 5,1,2, and 5, in that order. (I decided to just do four problems instead of five.  So ignore the last domino in each ray.)  Obviously, having only seven numbers to work with isn't so fun.  To combat this, if a solution was 12.34 and I wanted the team to pick a domino with a 2, I wrote:  "1DOMINO.34."  Not super elegant, but it made sense to my students, which is what matters.  It also allowed me to use the same problem for more than one team.

When a team was finished, I had them add their dominos together to see if their sum matched the sum I had in my notes (kuddos to my husband for this suggestion!).

What I liked:
Five teams with four problems each
  • It got students talking.
  • It got students thinking about the final.
  • They asked to play again...? 
  • There were "checks" built-in:  Did you get an answer other than 0,1,2,3,4,5, or 6?  Has your desired domino already been played (is this an error on your part or another team's part)?
What I didn't like:
  • I had one or two superstar students in each class that basically did all four problems for their team.
  • It took a bit of time to come up with the right problems.

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