Math Council

This is a group activity I created and have a lot of fun using in my classes.  It can be used as a review activity at anytime because all you need to do is create 10 or 12 problems.  It came from a desire to have a collaborative activity where each person in the group had their own distinct role to play.

The Overview

Students form a Math Council in groups of 4.  Each student then gets or chooses a role to play.  Each role has unique things that they are graded on.  The end goal is to create a poster that highlights the problems that the group worked on.  But in the creation of that end product, each member of the council has certain responsibilities.

Each student must do every problem on their own paper.  Then as a group they decide what the right method was and then that gets transferred onto a poster.

There are four roles:  Leader, Scribe, Sage, Runner.  Here are descriptions of each:

The Leader is in charge of making sure the poster finishes, as well as selecting the problems that group works on.  Each group is initially given an envelope of problems and the Leader chooses which ones the group works on.  Typically the envelope will have about 10 problems of which the leader selects 4 or 5 for the group to work on.  Interesting for me to see which ones they choose.

The Scribe is in charge of the poster.  Other members can help work on it, but their grade is most directly tied to the quality of the poster.

The Sage is responsible for coming up with key points for each problem.

The Runner is the only person who can ask me a question.  The Runner must report my answer back to the group.

Leader2

The Advice

– I do not answer any of the Runner’s questions near the group.  I make the Runner come to me and report my answer back to the group because I want to make sure that the group must rely on the Runner to explain to them what I’ve said, rather than them simply hearing me say it.

– I give each group an envelope with lots of problems in it, and then have the leader choose 4 or 5 for the group to work on.

– Each student must complete every problem on their own paper.  That is the “work shown” grade.

The Executive Council

This is a fun thing I added to mess with the students help students work on their collaborative ability to adapt to changing circumstances.  I have what I call the “Executive Council” and they call me periodically during the activity and make new demands upon the students.  I pretend to be receiving a phone call and then announce that the Execute Council just contacted me and they now want this or that.  Here are some common things the Execute Council calls for:

– They demand that every council has a name and that name goes on the poster.

– They require a certain problem out of the bunch to be on every poster.

– They require the Sage’s key points to be on every poster.

– They want a picture of a penguin drawn on every poster.

– They give extra credit for their favorite posters.

It’s pretty fun – after awhile when I act like I’m getting a phone call the students will call out “If that’s the Executive Council don’t answer it!”.  They will continuously ask who the Executive Council is – but of course I am not allowed to reveal that.

The Goods:

Leader

Runner

Sage

Scribe

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8 responses to “Math Council

  1. I love this! Thx for sharing, will definitely try it. What sorts of problems work well?

    • I’ve used this a bunch of times and have not seen a difference in its effectiveness with the type of problems I put into it. Although I have never used it with a single, more involved problem, nor have I used it to introduce new material. I have always used it with a bunch of review problems that they have at least seen before.

      Students will naturally gravitate towards the ones they think are the easiest – and thus the Executive Council needs to come in and demand a problem that you know the students need more help on.

  2. Super fun! Can’t wait to try it…will try to tweak it CCSS style. Will let you know how that goes!

  3. Pingback: Discipline and group work | ArkieTeacher

  4. Are your students really naive like that?

    • I assume you are referencing their belief in the existence of the Executive Council? No they do not actually believe there is a mysterious council calling me and demanding things from them, but nonetheless they go along with it because it’s all part of the activity.

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