When to Use:

Need a fast and easy teaching "strategy" to:
  • settle a "rowdy" class (perhaps after an exhilarating activity)?
  • fill in when that lesson ended faster than you had anticipated?
  • use for those last few minutes of class?
  • capture the attention of the entire class?

"Mental Math" will come to your rescue.  It is extremely easy to use.    You can plan your questions ahead of time or make up questions as you play the game.

Procedures:

  • Ask students to take out a half sheet of paper and number from 1 to 10.
  • Explain the game rules:  All computations are to be done mentally.  There is to be no writing on the paper, on the desk, on their hands, etc.  They may write invisibly in the air.   There is to be no talking.  No one is to use a calculator.
  • Give an example to illustrate what will be happening.
  • Show students the "signal" denoting when they should write their answer.  It may be a hand gesture, the statement of the word "equals", or whatever you deem appropriate.
  • Read each list of computations slowly and repeat.
  • When you are finished with all of the questions, ask if anyone would like a problem repeated.
  • Exchange papers (or collect) and read the answers.
  • Papers receiving a 100 receive "something" - a quiz grade, points toward a quiz, etc.

Example Problems

(to be done as read aloud by teacher - this is not order of operations - students never SEE these lines printed - they only HEAR the problems):

1. 12  /  3  +  6  x  3  -  5  = 25
2. 3 +  2  =
3. 2  +  8  /  5  +  22  /  4  =
4. 75  /  3  +  5  x  3  -  2  =
5. the square root of 64  +  7  /  3  x  20   =
6. 100  -  35  +  10  /  3  =
7. 1  +  19  /  4  x  9  =
8.   +    + 30  x  0  +  24  -   2  =
9. 120  -  35  =
10. 50  /  5  +  6  /  4  x  13  =

Your mental problems can be as difficult, or as easy, as you deem appropriate for your group of students.  Be sure to make the problems easy enough so that the students can feel successful on the majority of the problems.  If you are working on a particular topic, you may wish to include one or two questions relating to your topic:    "the triangles on the board show which method of proving triangles congruent?"

A "round" of Mental Math takes approximately 8 to 10 minutes, including grading.
 

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