Explore #MTBoS: Hangman

I am participating in Exploring the MathTwitterBlogosphere for the next 8 weeks. Here is a description if you are not familiar. 

I am posting on what makes my classroom unique. One small thing which makes my classroom unique is my version of hangman. Anytime I am writing on the board in class and make a mistake I start a hangman. Head, body, 2 legs, 2 arms only. This includes any small mistakes like leaving off a digit because I am thinking about an engaging question to ask when I’m done with a boring algebra step! 

The rules:

  • A student must point out the mistake before I correct it.
  • Each mistake is worth 1 body part.
  • The students have a full week to hang “me” before the hangman gets reset.
  • If they hang me, everyone in the class gets a bonus point on their next test. 

You would be surprised how much students enjoy this little game. They love to point out when I make a mistake. (It also gives me an opportunity to discuss how making mistakes is okay. Everyone does it!) They really love to yell out loud that they are hanging me. I just hope the person walking by is not worried about my safety because there are shouts about “me” being close to death (shouting is directly related to number of body parts on the board). It also makes them pay attention to details and shows them if you make a small mistake it can throw off everything. 

I never talk about this game until someone corrects me for the first time. Then I just casually mention that I play this game. Everyone perks up. It’s amazing to see a Friday, last block class hang on to everything I put on the board when I’m on my last body part for the week. 

Let’s be honest, 10 years down the road kids will not remember all the math you taught them but they will remember that Friday they argued for 5 minutes about whether or not they deserve the final arm. And then how the class broke into applause when I finally drew a full hangman on the board. 

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16 Responses to Explore #MTBoS: Hangman

  1. Bethany says:

    I love this idea! Stealing for tomorrow. I’ve been trying to focus on types of math mistakes, looking for mistakes, and correcting mistakes this year, so this is perfect for me! Thanks!

  2. Tim says:

    Thanks! It’s something small but I feel like it makes a difference.

  3. shaina says:

    What a good idea! I have a group of advanced 7th graders who are super smart, but shockingly complacent. I like the idea of using this to motivate them to stay engaged. You could step it up a notch by having the student who catches the mistake, come to the board to correct it and provide an explanation. No explanation – no body part! Can’t wait to try this out 🙂

  4. Kaci McCoy says:

    What a great idea! I love it for getting students a little more engaged in class. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Matt says:

    I appreciate how you reinforce that everyone makes mistakes. It’s an important concept and the fear of making mistakes often reduces student risk taking in the classroom. I reinforce the same theme, especially after handing back unit assessments. Struggling and making mistakes is part of the learning process. I’m glad that you found an engaging way to communicate that to your students.

  6. Jane says:

    I do the same with bonus 1/2 points, but I like your idea better because it is a group effort instead of rewarding just the kids who are the quickest to notice.

  7. jnewman85 says:

    Wow, this is awesome! I’m definitely going to use it very soon (perhaps tomorrow!), and I like Shaina’s addition to it. I’m not a huge fan of extra-credit, but I do use something that would allow me to give students points. (I know, I know, what I just described sounds like extra credit, but it’s not, really…)

    Thanks for sharing!
    -jonathan newman

  8. Hi Tim, this is just the perfect game for me: I keep telling my students they need not panic about the possibility of making mistakes and I point out how many I myself make. But this game is going to help me not only be reassuring but also be motivating. Thanks a lot, francesca

  9. Tim says:

    Thanks for all the comments!

  10. dawskd says:

    I love this idea!! Definitely giving this a try in my classroom. I have been known to get ahead of myself and make mistakes. My students love to catch them.

  11. lizziemad says:

    I love the idea, too! And it is great to hear that I am not the only teacher out there making little mistakes here and there!

  12. valarion says:

    My students love to find mistakes I make! This is a great way to model the acceptance of that part of the process. I also like the idea of the students having to explain the correction for it to count. Thanks for sharing a simple but powerful strategy!

  13. Amy Wix says:

    What a great idea. I, too, will be stealing the concept and incorporating it into my classroom routine. Thanks for sharing.

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