Whew, last week’s post was a little heavy, so I’m glad to get to talking about something a little lighter…Sprints! No not the exercise kind, the super fun engaging math activity kind!!
Not Another Worksheet!
There is a time and a place for worksheets, I get it. However, as an inclusion teacher with lots of antsy kiddos, I am much more apt to reach for something a bit more active for my day-to-day activities.
Enter: The SPRINT!
An engaging, cooperative activity that requires students to work together, analyze mistakes, and think critically in order to complete it. And, did I mention it’s a competition? That pretty much ensures my class will be excited. They love anything that is a competition! We use sprints a lot, and they can be created for just about any topic or subject. Typically, I include them in Math and Language Arts, but I have also used it for Science and History review.
My favorite part of Sprints is that the kids HAVE to work together and don’t get to just guess an answer and move on. If they do not get the correct answer to a question, they must rework and retry until they get it right! Otherwise, their group cannot move on in the game.
The SECOND best thing about sprints is that you can present rigorous, higher level questions that some students may not be able to complete on their own, but with the help of a group they actually learn and observe different ways to solve them! Because this involves correcting mistakes in order to move on, all students get a chance to see the benefit of checking and re-checking work, and everyone can participate and shine! Some of my favorite moments this year have been during math sprints when my quietest kids are saying, “No, that is not right! Remember this trick? Do it this way!” This activity allows all students to find their voice and participate.
So…how does this FUN, ENGAGING ACTIVITY work? I am glad you asked! Let’s get started:
I will use this example from our Adding and Subtracting Decimals unit. I created 12 questions that are similar to those they will see on a rigorous state exam. Stay away from anything too simple because you want to
a.) prepare them for the standardized test questions that they will encounter, and b.) allow the groups to work collaboratively together to solve a problem.
You don’t want more than 15 questions or so because it can take a while to work through.
Break your class into groups of 3 or 4. Any more than that and you risk having a student “get lost” in the group and not participate to their fullest potential.
Distribute materials! Another great part of this activity is you really don’t need much. Each group needs:
- An answer recording sheet
- Set of question cards- FACED DOWN! (One question per card)
- Paper or whiteboards to show work if needed
That’s it! Now, for you, the teacher, you will need:
- An answer key
- OPTIONAL: A buzzer or bell
Easy enough, huh?
Explain the rules. Each group needs a recorder and a “runner.” We discuss the fact that the runner does not actually “run” unless we do this outside (which we do on occasion!). EVERYONE must participate and help, the entire group must agree on an answer before they turn it in.
The students flip over the questions one at a time in sequence. After they complete question 1, the runner comes up to the teacher and rings the bell, ( if you choose to use it), and the teacher checks. If they have the answer correct, the teacher collects the question and the runner returns to the group to turn over question 2.
Continue in this fashion until all questions are answered. Keep playing until all groups are complete. Watch out, these munchkins can get pretty crazy in their frenzy to get to you to check! I have a co-teacher, so we both have an answer key and the students can go to either of us. If you have parent volunteers or a TA, this is a great way to utilize them!
But, what do the groups that are FINISHED do while they wait, you may ask?
Well, we either have a game or challenge activity ready for them, OR I have actually had the winning group split up and join the other groups to help! Of course, you have to know your class and how they work together, but this can be a fun option and allow the kids who are strong in whatever skill you are testing a way to share their expertise. Or…
Want Even More from this Fun Engaging Math Activity?
You can also create a sprint that involves a small task after the completion of each question, like drawing a picture! This works best if you can set up in the gym or outside, but it can be adapted to work in the classroom, too! The setup is basically the same, but you tape large poster paper to the wall on the opposite side of the gym or on the ground some yards away from the groups- so they have to actually sprint to get there! For example, after a group gets checked off for question 1, they read the task at the bottom of the card and race back to their group. Then, one member of the group will sprint to the paper and draw the first portion of the picture, as instructed:
Continue playing, and instruct the groups to rotate members for “sprinting” and drawing so that everyone gets a few chances to draw. Once a team if finished, I allow them to retrieve their picture and add color and detail as a group until all groups have completed the sprint.
Sprints are an A-29 favorite, and I hope you enjoy! The Sprint featured in this post can be purchased HERE! (or subscribe in the pink box above and get it for FREE! + access to multiple Teacher Mom resources 🙂 )