Category Archives: Math Games

Remedial Algebra Game

I often have trouble thinking of meaningful games to play in my remedial algebra class. These are the students who are most disengaged with traditional teaching, but they are often also the hardest to play games with … the same things that made them not-so great students, make them not-so great at listening to the rules of a game, or at playing it correctly without supervision.

But last class they had to do some tough solving of equations with fractions, and then today there was a quiz at the end of class… they looked so bored, and so unengaged. I had to try to think of something out of the ordinary to do to lift their spirits a bit.

We were doing the intro to translating word problems into algebra, and instead of putting up a table of all the operations and “key words,” I made it into a game.

I put up “addition” and in groups, they had to think of as many words as they could that tell you in a word problem that there is going to be addition. They got 1 point for everything they thought of that I said yes to and *two* points if they thought of one no other group had. Then we did subtraction, then we did multiplication, then division. I played against the class for multiplication, convinced that none of them would think of  “product” and”double” and “triple,” but I was beat out my two of the groups who thought of those and more.

Then we did the usual “Three more than twice a number is 13” and they had to translate that, and they were much more into it!

At the end of class, when when they had to take the quiz on solving, they did much better than usual. I like to think that being in a good frame of mind helped.


CUNY Tuition Slope Game for Basic Math, Algebra, and Statistics

Created by Wioleta Jaworska, BMCC, CUNY

Title of Game
CUNY Tuition Slope

Subject Area and Learning Outcomes
Basic Math, Algebra, and Statistics: Slopes, Quantitative Literacy, Percentages

This game was employed by me after a midterm-exam in my introductory algebra class. It is intended to teach slopes using a Math Lesson on CUNY tuition increases since 1976. In teams, students analyze data on CUNY tuition increases from 1847-present and must answer questions correctly.  The assignment works for basic math students, who can find the percent increase in tuition from one year to the next and contrast this with the change in inflation as measured by the change in CPI, and for algebra and statistics students, who can discuss the meaning of the equation for each regression line.

No materials or setup is needed beyond access to the internet site (you have to click on the link: Lesson Plan), which has data on CUNY tuition increases and sample problems.

Rules of Play
This game was employed after a midterm-exam in my introductory algebra class. I used the six highest-grade students as team captains. I deliberately chose a bigger number of leaders (6 – including two B+ students and four A students, and A is a grade I award infrequently) in order to form smaller teams. In teams, I had them read each other’s corrected midterms, focusing primarily on mistakes and my comments; students were to critique each other’s midterms as well as their studying techniques an provide constructive feedback. This process took approximately 30 minutes.  Based on this discussion, each team leader was responsible for assigning the right roles members of their team in preparation for the CUNY Tuition Slope game.  The game is played with teams, who compete against each other to answer questions correctly. Each turn, I assign a problem and the teams compete to be the first to answer the problem correctly. The game ends when each question has been answered or time is up. At the end of the game, you can reward the winning team with prizes.

Sample Turn
Each turn is the same: when the correct answer to a CUNY Tuition Slope problem has been written on the blackboard by the winning cluster-team.

Post-Game Discussion/Assessment
I received a very positive, keen engagement of each student during the competition. As a result of having participated in the game, students developed greater self-esteem and the ability for positive, mutual cooperation in the future.