This week I made a few changes to a class game I’ve done in the past. It went over like gangbusters and brought home the concept of relations and functions. Toward the end of my lesson on functions as special relations, I asked my algebra 2 classes if they wanted to play a game. Captive audiences do.

Here’s how it works. Tell the class you want them to count to ten as a class by taking turns shouting out the next number. Getting to ten on the first try is near impossible. It takes several rounds for them to catch on. These are the rules:

No conspiring. Otherwise leaders will emerge to organize a winning strategy.

All students must take a turn before anyone can go twice.

You shout “Go.” One student shouts “one,” another “two” and so on. If two (or more) shout out a number at the same time, the counting starts over because there’s overlap. Thus, the counting turns the function into a relation.

Several students mentioned they did something like this in their drama class except they were blindfolded. This twist could make it more interesting. I’m not sure. I like to see the anticipation on their faces.

The game works on many levels. It’s fun. It gives a non-math platform to talk about math (bazinga!), it hones the “failure leads to success” behavior I’m constantly talking about for math success, and it allows me to learn more about the character of the class.

Here’s an example of a round in which the class counted successfully to the number four, but then two students shouted out “five” and derailed the game.

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I feel like, if you are talking about functions being success and failures being relations, the graph should be the numbers on the x-axis and the names of students on the y-axis? That way when two or more students say a number at the same time, you’ll have two vertical points.

This looks like so much fun!