Monday, November 21, 2011

Taboo Review

At the end of each chapter we spend a day making a study guide and then playing some sort of review game.  In the past this games have included BINGO (fill in laminated cards with answers, then if you solve the problem you get to cross out the square), "the points game" (jar full of cards that say +5, +10, -5, -10 and x2, correct answer means you get to pull a card to determine your points) and a simple game of solving problems in teams to see which team can solve the most before the end of class.  This year I have played these, and added in a few more thanks to the wealth of ideas on twitter.  Last week we played basketball in my fundamentals class (solve some problems on a half sheet, if they're correct crumple and take a shot at the recycling bin, bonus point if you make it in! However- if you get one wrong you have to shoot from the far line, so there's an incentive to check your work).

Today, we finally played Taboo.  I'd been hearing about the great reasons to play Taboo from lots of people, but hadn't wanted to make the cards.  Last night I sat down to do it and it wasn't actually as hard as I'd expected.  In fact, the worst part was fighting with Word to get the table to stay the way I wanted.  I started with this set (google docs link) and then added my own to get this:

Taboo Ch 1-3
It's roughly in order of how I teach them so it should be easy to add more pages as the year goes on and play again.  And I definitely will play again!  This kids were really engaged, they said they learned from it and the most telling moment was when a couple kids were hesitant to take the talking role since they knew they didn't know the words well enough.  Those two will definitely be doing some studying!  (And they did eventually take turns in the role of describer.)

These are the rules we played by:

Taboo Rules
I assume I'm not the only high school teacher whose students have selective hearing, so you do need to go around and 'buzz' kids until they start monitoring each other.  One group was just reading the words on the card!  I was impressed that they knew all the vocabulary words, but it wasn't very challenging for the describer.  They had a good laugh once they learned they were doing the exact opposite of the rules.

We didn't do a great job of forming teams but rather just grouped into clusters.  That actually worked out fine since everyone was playing an active role (describing, checking or guessing), but I think next time if we want to have opposing teams they should sit A, B, A, B, A, B in a circle so there's no need to have kids switching seats between rounds.  Finally, I didn't have enough timers for each group to have their own, so I just yelled out "Start" then when the time on my phone went off  announced "Stop! Tally up your score and switch."  And repeated until there was just enough time left in class to fix the desks.  Overall I think it was a great activity to get students talking about math, using vocabulary and stretching themselves to do something other than recite a definition they memorized.  I would highly recommend playing Taboo with your class.  Especially if you want to make cards for the next few chapters in Geometry!  Kidding, although I'd love to hear feedback on the taboo words I chose and other words to add to our deck.

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