Recently, I reached out to the MTBoS looking for fun ideas for practicing solving literal equations.  I had searched pretty thoroughly to find any pre-existing activities on the internet, but there wasn’t a lot available.  On top of that, what was there, required way more pre-existing skills (SO MUCH FACTORING!) than my Algebra 1 students currently had a month and a half into the school year.   Unfortunately, the MTBoS and I were pretty stuck.

Farther down in this Twitter conversation, however, it was mentioned that someone recently used BetterLesson’s lesson for teaching literal equations.  At that point I had already taught the lesson and most of my students caught onto solving them quite quickly, but I still was looking for a fun way to get a bit more practice in.  While exploring what BetterLesson had, I found this worksheet  that gave me inspiration for a game I could play with my students.  After a little bit of brain-storming, I created what I’m calling a Connect 4 Activity.  Essentially, it’s BINGO, but 4×4 instead of 5×5.

How to play:

• Before game: print enough game cards so each student has one, and cut apart the 16 problems.  I fold the problems in half (the problem number to the inside) and put them into a plastic bin.  (When printing from your computer, make sure it says “print double sided, flip on long-edge.”)
• To start off the game, each student gets a game board, on which they randomly place the numbers 1-16.  Students then pull out a piece of scratch paper, where they will be doing their work.
• The teacher brings the plastic bin containing the 16 equations around the classroom, letting a student volunteer pick a problem at random. (They LOVE getting to pick!)
• The teacher then places the problem under the document camera (or writes it on the chalk/white-board if you’re at a low-tech school) for students to solve.
• After all students have solved the problem, discuss the solution as a class.
• Once all students are silent, the problem number is revealed for students to cross off on their game card. (The excitement levels usually explode at this point, hence the moments of silence in between.)
• Repeat for as much class time as you have available, or until all 16 problems have been solved.
• Each time a student gets 4 in a row, they bring up their card and their work for inspection (they showed their work and corrected any mistakes for each problem), and are allowed to choose a small piece of candy (Jolly Rancher, a Starburst, etc.).

Reasons why I LOVE this game:

1. It is super easy to set up and is so adaptable for other topics.  This has probably been the lowest prep activity I have made for my students, yet it has been one of the most successful.
2. Students felt much more confident about their skills and were able to get nearly-instant feedback about how they’re doing.
3. Students LOVED it. The class begged me to continue letting them play the game through passing time.