My Favorite Year End Review Activity

It’s the middle of summer, and I’m so far behind on blog posts I intended to write. All that free time in the summer seems to evaporate so quickly! It’s 2/3 of the way through July, and my first moment when I don’t have a family vacation, a daddy-daughter day, doctor’s appointments, car maintenance, work around the house, or scheduled work-related or scheduled math activities to do, so I get to share my favorite review activity. A lot of students like this too! I call it Speed Dating, and it’s fairly simple to set up. Each student is required to prepare one problem in advance. I give them the answer, but they need to work on how to solve the problem, and should make sure to ask any questions about the solution in advance if they feel unsure. If your class is large, you can break them up into smaller groups, and give each group the same set of problems. That way, too, all students working on a particular problem can come together to discuss their solutions in advance.

On the review day, each group should be set up in two circles – an inside circle and an outside circle, where each inside student is paired with an outside student. Make one larger space between two sets of desks – large enough to be able to walk through. This space will serve as the pivot point (explained later), but also makes it easier for students (and you, as the teacher) to get inside the circle. They should bring their solution with them as reference, and a place to take notes on the other solutions that they will see. I also include a small whiteboard and two different colored markers at each desk. Then, the fun starts.


I set a timer for three minutes, and the person on the inside explains their problem and solution, using the whiteboard. The person on the outside can use their own whiteboard marker to make notes or diagrams on the whiteboard if they have questions, and they can take notes on their own paper/tablet. When three minutes are up, they reverse roles, and have another three minutes for the outside student to explain their solution. After six minutes, students rotate.

All students move to the left, except for students at the pivot point, where one student in each pair wraps around, so that their partner stays on their left. Basically, you end up with a closed loop, where, given enough time, each student gets paired with every other student. During this process, each student gets to hear the solution to a wide variety of problems. In addition, every student is able to work on their explanation for their own problem, and through the extra practice, becomes a true expert in their problem, understanding it on a deeper and deeper level. Through the comments and questions they hear from their peers, they are able to focus on the trickiest parts of a problem, and refine their own solution.

When students are finished, they get time to re-write their solution and their updated solutions can be uploaded to our Google Classroom page and shared with their peers. I especially like this approach when doing a cumulative review, such as at the end of a semester in preparation for a final exam.


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