Super Duper Math Challenge: Dorky Name.....Amazing Results

In my 7th grade math class last week we learned order of operations.  I introduced it with a funny story about my neighbor and the order he has to eat his breakfast.  Then we played a couple of interactive games where you click on the steps and don't have to do the math.  These are great for kids who don't have strong calculation skills, this way they can have success while they learn the steps.

I needed a follow up activity to actually get them solving problems.  As much as I love doing projects and connecting math to the real world, I feel there are a few topics that just don't fit into those areas.  I haven't figured out a better way to practice other than just to do boring practice problems.

One problem I hear from math teachers, in trying to get away from the book, is how and where do you get your resources?  In this case instead of me making up problems and us just practicing them, I used the kids as my resource.

What did we do to make it fun?  The Super Duper Math Challenge was to create an order of operation problem and make it hard so that the other groups couldn't solve it.  I let the kids pick their own groups.  I like 3 in a group and I had them make one order of operation problem.  Each group made their own problem and had to solve it.  Then the kids rotated around the room and had to solve each others problem.

I had no idea what to expect.  I couldn't believe
the difficulty level of problems they made.  They were so hard, as the day went on I had to put some restrictions on the problems so they weren't too hard.  The kids had a blast.  They loved trying to "stump" the other groups.  After each round they wanted to know if the group that was working on their problem got it right or not.  They really enjoyed the competition.

It got to the point where at the end of class I was getting some real complaints.  They were complaining about not getting to every problem.  I also heard a few complaints about the time going too fast.  I guess maybe our clocks were off that day.  They couldn't get enough and all I did was get them riled up and got out of the way.

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