(VNPS: Vertical Non-permanent surfaces)
Last year I created a “Two Truths and a Lie” worksheet on exponent worksheets. Students simplify three problems. Two of the answers are the same, and the third answer is similar but not quite the same. I was really happy with how the worksheet turned out and how it went last year.
The day I had this worksheet in my lesson plan, I realized I wasn’t really looking forward to another worksheet with my 8th graders. I try to mix things up, but lately they’ve had worksheets pretty consistently. I was thinking through other options and was trying to come up with a way to change things up less than 2 hours before I had students in my room.
Whiteboards! I realized it had been a while since I’d had students work at the whiteboards. I took screenshots of the problems, projected them on the board, and had students work in groups through the four problem sets.
In the past when students worked at the whiteboards, I had them do one problem at a time and get it checked by me. This time, I had students do all three problems in each set before I would check their answers. They knew that two of the answers were going to be the same and one would be slightly different, so they already were doing some self-checking as they went along! When students called me over to check their answers, I would tell them how many problems they had wrong but wouldn’t tell them which one. I really liked the small change in how I had students do these problems. This is something I do a lot when they’re working in Desmos or with other activities, but I hadn’t done it in this situation before and loved how it went.
I had more students engaged for more of the hour by doing the problems this way, and my students were talking through the problems more than they would have if they were working on the worksheet. I actually had students cheer when I said we were going to the whiteboards. 🙂 It was a good reminder that I don’t have to always come up with some fancy activity to switch things up. Something as simple as taking problems from a worksheet and having students complete them in a different way is enough sometimes.