Quadratics Chain - Math Activity

on Friday, December 6, 2013
My competing love and disdain of worksheets has led me once again to seek out an activity that has built-in practice while giving students a break from traditional bookwork. I happened upon this post from Kim Hughey about her Star chain activity. The idea is that you start of with 11 or 12 questions that have unique solutions. You put the answers on a different square than the question appears. Students cut the sheet and line up the the questions with the correct solution as they go.

Here's what my page looked like. I used it for our lesson on graphing quadratics (and Newton's Formula). Some of my students come from middle schools that prepared them very well with how to use their calculator while others have no idea how to work it. This was a great activity because it allowed the students who knew what they were doing to zip right through without listening to me explain how to do a bunch of problems. Since it is a self-checking activity, they could tell right away if they were on the right track because the answer would either be there or not (kind of like a multiple choice test scenario...). The students who were less confident were able to take their time and ask questions as I roamed about the room.
Here is a link to the downloadable document: pdf / dock
Here is the answer key for my "star chain".

If you notice, I did a few things different than Kim's original star chain. I had a definite start point that my students began with. This allowed me to have a definite end point (which is the square in the far right). I wanted to have at least one open ended question for my students to be able to answer. Also, you'll see that in the top right corner of each square there is a letter. I found a word that is 12 letters long without repeating a letter and put one in each box. The word I found was AMBIDEXTROUS. I did this so as I was walking around, I would be able to look at the letters and know if a kid was on the right track or not.

But.... I know high school students would try and figure out what the word was as they went, and then figure out how to line everything up without actually doing the problem. So how did I get around this? I spelled it backwards. The first question they do is the S. The second question is the U, and so on. I wasn't sure if it was going to work.... but they were all totally stumped.

I got a lot of, "What's suortxedibma?"

Yeah.... imagine hearing 100 kids try and sound that one out! 


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