Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Risk your Fraction Skills

Next week, I begin my school year with 180 sixth graders (36 students per class).  My district has provided a scope and sequence that builds from where sixth graders should be starting the year skill-wise. It assumes that most students will need a brief review of adding and subtracting fractions before we launch into multiplying and dividing.  Over the years, I've learned not to count on the fact that assumed prior knowledge is in place and so I want to do a pre-assessment to double check where my students' skills lie. I really hate to throw a test at my students the first couple of weeks and - when trying to think of another way to preassess - I remembered a game I saw on Sue VanHattum's blog a while ago. Sue's game (Risk your Algebra Skills) was aimed at algebra students, but I used her idea to focus on my students' fraction skills.
Risk Your Fraction Skills
The idea of the game is that students risk up to 100 points that they will get the first question correct (they should make their bid BEFORE they work the problem). If their answer is correct, they add the points to the beginning 100 points; if they're wrong, they subtract.  They now have a new total from which to bid.  The winner of the game will have the highest point total.

The reason I like this game as a preassessment is because it gives me two important pieces of information:
  • How confident the students are in their skills of adding or subtracting fractions or mixed numbers with common and different denominators  (Where do THEY think they are?)
  • The actual skill level of the students (Where are they REALLY?) so I can differentiate my instruction and products, as needed
It also disguises the "test" in a way that will distract my test phobic students.

I'm looking forward to trying this with my kiddos .... a test disguised as a game....FUN! :) If it works well - it might be a way of disguising other sorts of assessments. If you try the "game" I'd love to hear if you think you got the same sort of information you would get from a normal test.

UPDATE: Here's an Order of Operations one ...

Risk Your Ooops


  1. Great idea! I will share it with my department. Sadly, we might also get some unwelcome insight into students' basic operation skills with whole numbers as they calculate their points :)
    Thanks for sharing.

  2. Neat! I like that it's a private activity while being a game the class is playing at the same time. That way students can make bids based on their personal confidence level without having to announce them to the whole class. I also like the pacing of the questions. If a students gets question 1 wrong, they might figure out what they should have done once they hear the answer. They can then (hopefully) apply that skill in question 2. I hope your students enjoyed the activity!

  3. Thanks for sharing! Working with sixth grade students, as well, I agree that adding and subtracting fractions usually does need some kind of review and foundation building. This should be a perfect beginning of the year activity.

  4. Nice graphic! I wanted the sheet to look cool but didn't think of finding a graphic like that.

  5. This game sounds awesome! How do students know if they got the right answer? Do you give them a few minutes to work and then announce the answer to the whole class before they proceed with bidding for the next question?

    1. Actually, I use Julie's (http://ispeakmath.wordpress.com/) idea of having the students work all the problems first. Then, we start the game. They place a bid on their first answer, I pause while they do that, and then I give them the answer. LOTS of cheers and then we move on to number 2 and repeat the process. It is SOOOOOOOO quiet while they wait for the answer. By this time, they are heavily invested... :)

  6. This is cool! I like what you've done here - especially as a pre-assessment tool. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Thanks for sharing. You've inspired me to write about this activity and I referenced your blog.

  8. I love your idea! Thank you for sharing; I teach 6th grade also, and find so many games to practice or review basic skills (or new ones) are often too 'babyish' especially for my "tough boys." This is super!