Saturday, September 3, 2011

Algebra Tiles: Order of Operations

I LOVE manipulatives. They have a place in the middle school classroom too.

When I first started teaching in 2004, I attended a conference for Marcy Cook. The way she taught us was the way I had envisioned teaching - hands-on, discovery-focused, learning. So I spent what little money I had on a few of the tiling task cards and started in my 8th grade classroom.... with students just six years younger than me.... It worked! They have become a vital part of my teaching techniques as they not only create a fun, learning atmosphere, but they can easily be worked into whatever curriculum you are using and promote higher level thinking. Here's what I do:

  • Place students into groups of two or three and hand each group a tub of quiet tiles and a task card.

  • Students can use each tile only ONE TIME. There will be no single digit or three digit numbers as solutions (except the last one is a single digit). There will be no "doubles" (11, 22, 33, etc.)

  •  Make a competition or something fun out of it. I usually create a tally board on my white board and then at the end of the allotted time I give the team with the most points some sort of reward (candy, points, etc).

  • There are 20 task cards ranging in difficulty and when you order, you recieve a fun tracking sheet, so I simply sign it for each completed card to make sure no group does the same one twice and to get a wide range of cards in there.
  • HAVE FUN and challenge students to think critically if they get stuck.

Students will enjoy the challenge and it helps build teamwork and communication. Remember to always switch up your groups to avoid "cliques" and hurt feelings.

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