Monthly Archives: March 2013

Whiteboard Experiments: Modified Mistake Game

I have used Mistake Game a lot in class. Students write up the solution to problems on whiteboards and purposely make a mistake in the solution. Then they present their solutions to each other, presenting their mistake like they meant to do it. Then, students ask thoughtful questions to try to find the mistake.

This works great with topics that are conceptually rich, but less so in topics that are more mechanical, where mistakes tend to be a bit harder to see and are less rich to talk about, like implicit differentiation for example. I did a modification of the Mistake Game that worked really well for this:

  1. In groups of 2-3, students write solutions to a problem on a large whiteboard. After checking their correct answer with me, they go back through and make a mistake in their solution.
  2. Students then flip over the sheet I gave them that had their answer and write what there mistake is, kind of like a mini answer key.
  3. Groups then rotate around the room and try to find the mistake in the solutions in front of them. Once they find the mistake and check their answer with what the group wrote, they move on to the next board.

I wanted to train them in the art of looking over a solution and checking its correctness, and I think that this did that well. Compared to the mistake game, I felt like more students were active at any moment, more students could carefully follow complicated work, and it took much less time (20 minutes as opposed to 40)… but we also didn’t have the great mathematical discussions that we normally have during mistake game. I guess it really depends on the topic at hand which version is more appropriate, so I’m definitely going to keep this one in my teaching toolbox.

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Whiteboard Experiments: Practice & Reflect

I tried something new in class this week that I think solves a few random problems:

  1. Sometimes, when working on whiteboards, one student hogs the marker and does a lot of the work (and thus the learning)
  2. With whiteboard work, students don’t have anything in their notebooks to study later
  3. When we practice things like derivatives in our notebooks, I feel like their notes become almost useless because it is a mess of 15-20 examples.

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Practice and Reflect

I put the whiteboards out on the desk and left them there the whole period. We were learning the derivatives of exponential and logarithmic functions of bases other than e so I wanted to go back and forth between the whiteboards and their notebooks a few times.

After teaching them a derivative rule as a whole class, I gave them a sheet of 15-20 problems that definitely got more difficult as they went along. I gave them 12 minutes to practice (I put a timer on), and they worked on the problems with partners on the whiteboards, which gave them a chance to discuss, erase mistakes and see problems in large format with different colors.

Then, I asked them to put the markers away and open up their notebooks and gave them 3 minutes to reflect. I told them they could do whatever they want with this – copy down a few problems that were tricky, write down some things that they want to remember, write down steps for the problem. With this, I feel like their notes were a bit more focused and useful. I also felt like the whole routine was efficient, in that it kept a vast, vast majority of the students moving and engaged. I’ll definitely try this again.