Trying to be a "positive teacher" is hard work. We have to constantly try to avoid the negativity around us so we won't get dragged down too. I love teaching and I have a passion for helping my students learn math. So this semester I chose to start eating lunch in my own room just so I can get some #MTBOS motivation to stay positive and stay up to date on the current awesomeness!!

Today's awesomeness came from a blog by Jon at mrorr-isageek about games in math. I was so inspired after seeing this blog that I came up with my own twist which is now called the Connect Four Game.

The game is played much like the connect four game you might have played as a child except you don't have to take turns and you don't have to start at the bottom and stack the pieces. So here is a quick summary of how the game is played:

1) Split the class into small groups I had 4 groups of 3 or 4 people working together.

2) Give each group a review packet with problems 1-100 or number of squares in your table.

3) Explain that students can choose any problem to solve but goal is to get 4 in a row (horizontally or vertically) or to block another group from successfully connecting 4. Explain that students in a group should all be working on different problems so they get more correct questions. If a group gets a question correct they must then circle the number so no one else can earn credit for this question for the remainder of the game.

4) I walked around with a clip board and answer sheet for when students needed answers checked. If they got it correct I said "53 is taken"

5) Point values vary: 1 pt correct questions, 3 pts connect four, 5 pts strategic block

6) If students get more than four in a row they will only get 3 pts for connect four if they have multiples of four in a row otherwise each additional circle only counts as 1 pt.

7) We determined after playing that a strategic block only occurs when they completely block a team from connecting four. For example 94 is a block but 16 isn't because the blue did get four in a row. This is the only one I'm still questioning... I may change it to a block only occurs when you stop a group after 3 in a row. I may have to keep up with who is doing what or have them tell me when they planned to specifically block a group. What are your thoughts? How would you determine a strategic block?

So that's pretty much the jist of it. Other than telling you how motivated and enthusiastic my students were while playing this game. I had students running to the board to circle and running back to there seat to start a new problem. I was seriously overjoyed at how this turned out. Esspecially since I took only lunch to create the activity and roll with it. Nice to know it takes little effort to implement. I will say that my really low level students gave up. I think I only had two but still this is frustrating. I think I will choose a very simple review task to include and give like random 5 minute intervals on those problems to increase their motivation to try. As well as explain to the class that those that totally understand should seek harder problems so their teammates have problems they understand how to complete.

When putting your packet together I would suggest randomizing your problems so not all topics are grouped around same numbers. For example, I was working on systems of equations with graphing, substitution, & elimination but I choose to do sets of 4 and alternate between topic so they were forced to do different types of problems. Also I specifically told them during this 5-10 interval they could only do elimination problems because obviously graphing was the easiest.

Hope you guys enjoy!!

To download my connect four board game: