Algebra Safari Algebra_Safari2.jpg

Nicholas Ingrande, ningrande@cox.net, ningrande5@googlepages.com

Put some graphical representation of the game here.

Instructional Objective

After playing this game, the players will be able to:
  • Simplify Expressions using the Order of Operations.
  • Solve Variable Equations using the Order of Operations.
  • Identify errors in expressions and equations using the Order of Operations.
(You can find links to curricular frameworks here ).

Learners & Context of Use

This game is designed for students in grades 6-8 that need a little reinforcement using the Order of Operations. These students have the basic concept of the Order of Operations, but make simple mistakes and need some extra practice. Middle School students either love math or hate math. They are tired of the drill and kill method of a lot of math teachers. Algebra Safari will allow them to learn and reinforce their skills in a competitive and fun way. Prior to playing the game, players should have already had lessons on the Order of Operations.Describe them in terms of their age, grade level, affinity towards the subject matter, and anything special about them that the reader should know. Where would the game be used? If in a school, what accomodations would you need to make to do it in a typical classroom? Is it designed to be played more than once? What would happen prior to the game? What would happen after it?

Competing Products

Pre-Algebra Trios- The game covers problems with unknown variables.
Conceptual Bingo Polynomials Game- The game covers polynomials, combining like terms, multiplying monomials, using the distributive law, factoring and dividing polynomials, and working with polynomial fractions.

Object of the Game

The object of the game is to use your knowledge of the Order of Operations to take you from one end of The Operation Islands to the other before the other players. The first player to the end is the ruler of The Operation Islands.


Content Analysis

The main content of this game is the Order of Operations. The game will cover aspects of the Order of Operations like what operation do you do first, division or subtraction. Do you solve the exponent or what is in the parenthesis. The players will have to simplify expressions and variable expressions, solve variable equations, and conduct error analysis of pre-completed expressions and equations.

Game Materials

The box will contain:
  • five stacks of game cards (blue, red, purple, yellow, and green).
  • The gameboard.
  • The four game pieces (Safari Jeeps).
List each of the physical objects one would find in the box. For example, the board, each type of card, each type of prize or token, etc.) After listing the materials, describe each in as much detail as needed. Include illustrations of the board and each type of card.

Time Required

Approximate playing time 30-60 minutes.The set up time is minimal, take out the board and set up the five decks of cards. The game could be a weekly competition for the position of table captain.
How long would the game take to set up? How long to play? Would one carry a game over several play periods?

The Rules

Game Rules
  1. Start in the Cove of Products. The Cove of Products is a Blue space, so pick a blue card and follow the directions. You can not move until you solve the card correctly.
  2. Continue moving through The Operation Islands picking cards and moving the number of spaces the card tells you to move.
  3. Some cards will allow you to choose a player and have them skip a turn (This could be any player of your choice.)
  4. In order to cross The Bridge of Distribution and to become the Ruler of The Operation Islands, players must choose and solve a card from the green deck of cards.
  5. The first player to the Bay of Parenthesis and solves the green card is the ruler The Operation Islands!!!
Card Rules
  1. The cards are split up into four different topics
  2. Follow the directions on the cards, and move the number of spaces that it says in the bottom right corner of the card.
  3. Some cards allow you to move some spaces and allow you to skip another players turn.
  • Blue: the Order of Operations
  • Red: Simplifying Variable Expressions
  • Purple: Solving Variable Equations.
  • Yellow: Combination of Red and Purple Cards
  • Green : Error Analysis.


Motivational Issues

The game will engage the players through competition. If I used this game in my class, I would have the winners be the table captains for the week until they lose. The players will also have to keep track of each others' progress. This will keep them engaged in the game to make sure the other players are not cheating.


Design Process

When designing Algebra Safari, I first thought of topic that my students need extra practice. The firs topic that came to my mind was expressions and equations. My students always have a difficult time remembering the differences between the two. I also thought expressions and equations would be perfect, because they work on the Order of Operations, adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing integers. All areas that need help.

Once I figured out the topic, I had a hard time figuring out how I wanted the game board to look. I thought about just making the track the students follow a rectangle or a circle. The two shapes were boring, and I felt did not have anything to do with the topic of expressions and equations. I finally thought about using the operation symbols
(+ - x รท ). This design looked more mathematical.

I then chose to do a safari theme, so the students could feel like it was an adventure and the winner will be the ruler of the Operation Islands. I also thought the students would like the Jeeps.

Once I created the game I had two of my students test out the game. The two students I chose are 7th graders that are towards the higher level of achievement in my math support class. While I sat and watched them, they were having difficulty with the problems. The cards are numbered in the top left corner according to difficulty and they kept picking the higher difficulty cards. What I liked about watching these two play is that they were both trying to solve the problems at the same time. This way no one could cheat. When they had different answers, they would look at me and ask who was right. I would tell them to explain their thinking and they usually came up with the correct answer.
Here are their responses to the game.
Student #1:
Weakest Point: If the players are not strong enough in math, then they will have a hard time with the problems.
Strongest Point: The game was fun.
One Change: I would add a prize.

Student #2:
Strongest Point: The best part of the game was the colors and when you land on a color you have to take out a card with the same color.
Weakest Point: No prize at the end and it is hard for 7th graders.
One Change: To make the questions a little harder so you can give us a harder challenge.
I would have made the same thing and have it up to 6 players, so everyone could play. I would have tested the game with 6th graders.

After I had the students try the game I did realize that the problems may have been a little too hard, but they do need a challenge. I also noticed that the students do know the Order of Operations and their mistakes are fixable. I often saw each student correct and teach the other student how to solve the problems. In this aspect I do think the game is achieving its goal. I would love it though if I could put the answer on the back of the cards in some hidden way and then put the cards in a plastic decoder like the CapN Crunch Decoders. As far as a prize, these students need to learn that bragging rights is a wonderful and cheap prize. Prizes will have to be up to the teacher.


References

What did you look at to inform your design of the game?
  • Books & Journals
    • Book1 (Use APA format, except for the negative indent of the first line)
    • Book2 * etc.
  • Electronic*
    • URL1
    • URL2
    • etc.