*had*done it would take a drink.

We played a version last summer at church camp. We had one-too-few chairs (musical chairs-style) and the person in the middle would claim something - I've never run a marathon - and anyone who had would have to jump up and find a new seat. The slowpoke who didn't get a new seat had to be the next "caller."

Tuesday we played with my algebra students. We had learned polynomial vocab on Monday, so Tuesday I put them all in a circle and gave everybody a polynomial. I would say, get up and move if you are a binomial! ... if your leading coefficient is 2! ... if you're a quadratic! What ensued what raucous fun! Those 8th graders wrestled and played like kindergarteners. We laughed and shouted and cheered.

What surprised me, though, was how much real learning was happening. I had expected it to be a diversion, another way to get those vocabulary words out there, but was impressed by how much it actually helped. Kids would say, "wait, wait, am

__I__a binomial?" or (not surprisingly) they'd tell on each other, "Kaylan was supposed to move!" I could ask, "why do you say so?" and then "Kaylan, care to defend yourself?" MP3, folks!!!

Real-world activity? Umm, no. High engagement? Most definitely.

On Wednesday, I tried to grab a restroom break between second and third period, and when I walked into my classroom they had moved the tables and put the chairs in a circle. They were shouting out questions and answers - one girl would yell "binomial!" and everyone would yell back "two terms!" I was so touched, I scrambled to come up with a way to keep playing. I grabbed a sharpie and a stack of index cards and gave everybody either a constant, or a single variable raised to some exponent. I reminded them about factors of a number, and then gave a quick defintion of factors of monomials.

First we did a few rounds where I'd write a monomial on a white board, and you had to jump up if you were holding a factor. Then I started writing two monomials, and you would jump up if you had a

__common factor__. After each round, I would have all the people who were holding factors stand up. We'd confirm, and them we'd decide whose cards comprised the Greatest Common Monomial. What had been a review and reinforcing exercise yesterday had become a teaching exercise today. And it was just as fun the second time!

My daughter is in that class, and just to be mean I gave her "1" on the second day. It was fun watching the kids notice that she was getting up

*every time*and tying to work out why. One boy raised his hand and said, "is there a case when Kate's the only one who gets up?" You could really see the wheels turning!

I stopped the game for a few minutes to re-group and give examples of factoring GCMonomials from polynomials. We factored a multi-variable monomial from a trinomial, and they started murmuring about how easy it was, when would I get to the hard stuff? I was pleased with how accessible they found the whole thing.

I'm a big believer that fun and engaging aren't the same thing, but this game really was both. I also contend that this game didn't actually have anything that put the concepts in context, or any of the other edu-trends, but it did reinforce the skills in a motivating way. I am genuinely curious to see how the summative assessments turn out for this. I'm also more than a little worried about how to ever live up to this week!