How do you engage students? How do you teach them to be innovative and creative? You think outside the box as a teacher. Recently, an Algebra I teacher sent me an email sharing an incredible task she created for her students. I was fascinated by her meaningfully application of the concepts she was teaching and asked her if I could share her task.

Algebra Scavenger Hunt

To make your own scavenger hunt:

- Make a map of your school on a coordinate plane.
- Hide clues in 8 different locations throughout the school. Each clue will have problems on them.
- Give each pair of students a system of equations problem. They will need to solve it, graph the solution on their map, and go to that location to find another problem. That problem will send them somewhere else in the school.
- Make play money to use as a “point” system. (For my money, I took one of those school pictures I never know what to do with and placed that on top of the money on the dollar sign. The kids really got a kick out of that!
- Give each group 5 dollars before they begin. Allow them to spend a dollar to get a hint from you if they need one. As they continue, they will either earn money (getting a question right) or lose money (making inappropriate choices such as disrupting another class or going somewhere on campus they should not have been.)

To create a system of equations from an order pair:

- Take the ordered pair you want to use as the solution of system of equations. I chose (12,8)
- Create the first part of both equations. For example, -2x+3y = _______ and 4x -3y = __________.
- Then need to plug in the x and y values to get what they equal. So using the same two equations from before I used -2(12)+3(8), -24+24 and got 0, so the first one is -2x+3y=0. Then the second one is 4(12)-3(8), 48-24 and you get 24 so that one is 4x-3y=24.
- Now you have a system of linear equations -2x+3y=0 and 4x -3y = 24 and have 7 more to make.

All of my prizes (except for the pencil) were things that I didn’t purchase. The students were very

excited about the grand prize, 100% on the unit quiz. After all, if they could just solve the four system of equation problems then they have already mastered the quiz. As a side note, very few groups asked for a hint and my systems were hard, too!

*I’m so proud of my students! They worked very hard and had a good time!*

Don’t you wish you had this teacher when you took Algebra? Don’t you wish your own children had an experience with Algebraic concepts like this? I think Lisa Nielsen [Visit Lisa’s blog for more innovative ideas and thoughts.] had the best quote, from Will Richardson, in one of her posts,

*“What I want from my kids’ school is to help me identify what they love, what their strengths are, and then help them create their own paths to mastery of their passions. Stop spending so much time focusing on subjects or courses that ‘they need for college’ but don’t interest them in the least. Help them become learners who will be able to find and make good use of the knowledge that they need when they need it, whether that means finding an answer online or taking a college course to deepen their understanding. And finally, prepare them to create their own credentials that will powerfully display their capabilities, passions and potentials.”* [More from Will Richardson]

Download copies of the description of the Scavenger Hunt Store and Directions for the Scavenger Hunt.

Thank you, Kari, for sharing this incredible task!

Side Note: This teacher uses small-group differentiated instruction in her classroom on a regular basis using the Tabor Rotation Framework and engages her students like this on a weekly basis. AMAZING!!!