Let’s Play Math!

Math games open an arena for strategic planning and reasoning, one of the NCTM Process Standards. Many games also provide practice in basic operations or problem solving, and all motivate the active participation we hope for in the classroom.

The Maths File Game Show
A collection of 12 interactive games that deal with basic concepts of mathematics: data handling, numbers, algebra, and measurement. Students can use order of operations to ensure that letters reach the right mailbox, compete in a test of fractions and percentages, and even guide a spaceship across Cartesian coordinates.

Towers of Hanoi: Algebra (Grades 6-8)
An online version of the ancient Towers of Hanoi puzzle, featuring three spindles and a graduated stack of two to eight discs, as decided by the player, with the largest disc on the bottom. The challenge is to move all discs from the original spindle to a new spindle in the smallest number of moves possible while never placing a larger disc on a smaller disc. By observing the pattern of number of discs to number of moves, students can generalize the relation and answer the question “What if you had 100 discs?”

Traffic Jam Activity
Why the jam? There are seven stepping stones and six people. Three stand on the left-hand stones and three on the right-hand; all face center. Everyone must move so that the people on the right and the people on the left pass each other, eventually standing on the side opposite from where they started. But no two people may stand on the same stone at the same time! This problem requires reasoning, but its solution also reveals a pattern that leads to an algebraic expression. A lesson plan is provided.

Clever Games for Clever People
Here are 16 strategy games from the book On Numbers and Games by mathematician John Conway. Each develops those critical thinking skills so valued in math. As for materials, only paper and pencil or, occasionally, crayons or a checkerboard, are needed. Game rules and setup are clearly described and illustrated for each game.

We Want Your Feedback
We want and need your ideas, suggestions, and observations. What would you like to know more about? What questions have your students asked? We invite you to share with us and other readers by posting your comments. Please check back often for our newest posts or download the RSS feed for this blog. Let us know what you think and tell us how we can serve you better. We appreciate your feedback on all of our Middle School Portal 2 publications. You can also email us at msp@msteacher.org. Post updated 11/18/2011.

Making a Prediction

Middle school students need opportunities to examine how probability can be used to make predictions and sound decisions. These resources will engage students in real-world applications of probabilistic thinking.

Game of SKUNK
With this lesson, students examine choice versus chance and practice decision-making skills using the outcome probabilities when playing the game of SKUNK.

She Always Wins, It’s Not Fair!
This is the perfect activity to use when introducing the concept of fair and unfair games.

Lotto or Life: What Are the Chances?
Teachers interested in astronomy or in working with a science class will find this lesson offers an out-of-the-ordinary way to investigate outcomes based on probability.

A Statistical Study on the Letters of the Alphabet (CEC)
Students examine letter usage and make decisions based on data. This lesson can be developed as an interesting language arts connection.

Sticks and Stones
Students gather data when playing Sticks and Stones, an Apache game, to determine the average number of moves necessary to win the game.

Tree Diagrams and Probability
A tree diagram is a perfect way to make probability visual. In this lesson, students use tree diagrams and explore fair and unfair games based on the outcomes of car race trials.

What Are the Odds?
Use the navigation column to find background information, lesson plans, and student activities focused on the use of probability.

We Want Your Feedback
We want and need your ideas, suggestions, and observations. What
would you like to know more about? What questions have your
students asked? We invite you to share with us and other readers
by posting your comments. Please check back often for our newest
posts or download the RSS feed for this blog. Let us know what
you think and tell us how we can serve you better. We appreciate
your feedback on all of our Middle School Portal 2
publications. You can also email us at msp@msteacher.org. Post
updated 11/29/2011.

Brushing Up on Your Middle School Algebra and Geometry

We know that days, weeks, or months without using a skill takes a toll on our proficiency. So it can be with teaching topics in the middle school math curriculum. If it’s been a while since you taught algebra or geometry topics, which are now recommended in “significant amounts” by the NCTM Standards, here are some resources to bring yourself back up to speed.

Insights into Algebra 1: Teaching for Learning
This online professional development workshop for middle and high school teachers explores strategies for teaching 16 topics found in most Algebra 1 programs. In each session, teachers view two half-hour videos that feature effective strategies for teaching specific topics. Then, using a workshop guide, teachers participate in activities designed to help them incorporate these strategies in their own practice.

Learning Math: Patterns, Functions, and Algebra
In this online course designed for K-8 teachers, each of 10 sessions centers on a topic, such as understanding linearity and proportional reasoning or exploring algebraic structure. The teacher-friendly design includes video, problem-solving activities, and case studies that show you how to apply what you have learned in your own classroom.

Learning Math: Geometry
This online course introduces geometric reasoning as problem solving. Intended for K-8 teachers, the sessions explore the properties of geometric figures, the use of mathematical language to express ideas and justify your reasoning, and the basis of proofs and solid geometry.

We Want Your Feedback
We want and need your ideas, suggestions, and observations. What would you like to know more about? What questions have your students asked? We invite you to share with us and other readers by posting your comments. Please check back often for our newest posts or download the RSS feed for this blog. Let us know what you think and tell us how we can serve you better. We appreciate your feedback on all of our Middle School Portal 2 publications. You can also email us at msp@msteacher.org. Post updated 4/07/2012.