Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Number Headbands

My 1st grader just brought home a test.  On it was a question about playing Number Headbands, a twist on the popular kids' game.  The game is played like this:

Kids are broken up into groups of 3.  A deck of cards with numbers on it is shuffled.  One person is the referee and the other two each take a card without looking at it.  The referee looks at both, must add them, then gives the total to the two participants.  It got a little tough asking a six-year-old what happens next.  I assumed it was a competition between the other players to get the answer, but I think a time could be ascribed to the round to allow for more participation, then both players can give their answers.  Kids switch roles and repeat as often as time allows.

In hearing my daughter describe the game, I thought about the benefits: engagement, students checking each other's work, and the relationship between inverse operations.  How can this structure be used in other classes?

I'm thinking about how this might look in intermediate grades, middle school and beyond.  Introducing negative numbers, decimals, fractions, and other operations can help extend this engaging practice technique.  Looking at algebra, it can help students with multiplying and factoring polynomials, or composing functions.  A two player version could help students write inverses.

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