Saturday, April 5, 2014

Spark Student Motivation: Math Scrimmage

Yay!!! My class has one state test (Writing) down!  In Texas, 4th graders have a 2-day, 4-hours-each-day Writing test, and I am sooo relieved it is done.  I am also SO proud of my students because I heard from their test monitors that they were working very hard the whole time.  Nothing makes me prouder as their teacher :) *Happy Dance!!*
So that's one sigh of relief.  BUT, before I get too excited, there are still the state Reading and Math tests to prepare for...which are coming up fast in only 2 weeks!  How is a teacher supposed to keep her students motivated to work hard after just having a 2-day testing marathon?  Well, I have an answer for that, so I'm linking up with Head Over Heels for Teaching for her linky Spark Student Motivation Saturdays.

In order to prepare for the state Math test, everyone knows that a lot of spiral review is good.  But how good is it if the students aren't trying their hardest or aren't paying attention?  Enter....Math Scrimmage! Math Scrimmage is a way of turning spiral review into a group competition.  Luckily, my class is already divided into groups: Giraffes, Zebras, Crocodiles, Toucans, Lions, and Anacondas.  So I made a class chart that looks like this:

Included on the chart are places to put scores for daily scrimmages and homework, and a weekly "Game" (quiz).  The scrimmages are 10-question worksheets with review problems.  The homework includes 4 questions each night.  And the Game is a 10-question quiz with review from the whole week.  Every day, I grade students' homework and quizzes immediately and tally up the average scores for each group.  And here's one of my favorite parts: If a student doesn't show their work on any or all of the problems, they lose 10 points for their team.  However, if a student gets a 100%, they earn 10 extra points!  The winning team at the end of the week gets a special prize from me, as well as from our Dean of Instruction.  I also gave prizes to the 2nd and 3rd place teams.  I'd be happy to explain any more of the details if you have questions, but that's the gist of it.  

The important thing is, I have NEVER seen a class so motivated to show their work, take their time, and do Math review worksheets!  We did the scrimmage 2 weeks ago, but not this week because of the Writing test.  But on Thursday, after the testing was over, my students were already asking when we could do Math Scrimmage again.  When I said we'd get back to it this coming week, they literally cheered!  So needless to say, I am feeling confident that these next 2 weeks before the Math test are going to be extremely productive.

I also transferred the same idea to Reading practice.  When the kids take a reading quiz, I calculate the groups' average scores to determine a winning group.  This idea can be used for any subject.  Thank you to our school's Math Interventionist, who found this Scrimmage idea!  

On a side note, I am offering my Spring Summarizing Sort (Grades 2-4) over at my store today for FREE!  Its normal cost is $4.  Head to my Facebook page for the link if interested :)  Ladybug's Teacher Lounge

Have a fabulous Saturday!  I, for one, will finally be getting my taxes done...woohoo....!


  1. I love your math scrimmage! What a great idea to motivate your students to take their time and show their work-a little healthy competition is always great! I can't believe your testing is 4 hours each day...that's crazy long! Good luck to you and your kids!
    Thanks for sharing Rebecca!
    Head Over Heels For Teaching

  2. Thanks Joanne! Yes, the testing here is out of control. Can't wait for it to be over in a couple weeks!

  3. Congrats on having your writing test done! In some ways, that one can be the WORST! I love the competition and team building of your scrimmage game. Such fun!!

    Mrs. Laffin's Laughings

  4. Thanks Jennifer! Yes, the Writing test takes A LOT of preparation, starting with how to write complete 4th grade! The scrimmage game is definitely saving my sanity during this season of test prep. :)

  5. What a fun way to make reviewing for the big test fun! Love this idea!!
    A Tall Drink of Water

  6. Thanks Rachel! It is the most fun test review I've ever done with my class in the past 6 years of teaching :)