Gist: Students fold their worksheets into paper airplanes and fly them around the room, then gather the nearest one and continue working on that one.
Why Do It? Students rarely care much about the work they do on a worksheet. Playing Paper Airplanes gets them up and moving, narrows down how many problems they have to do, increases engagement and motivation, and generally breaks the doldrum of a regular school day. This activity also gives students an equal opportunity to solve problems and evaluate answers, increasing the rigor of a typical worksheet. Paper Airplanes requires no special materials or preparation.
Directions to Make:
1. Make one copy of your worksheet for each student.
2. Push the desks out of the way, along the walls, leaving an open floor space in the middle.
1. Have each student put their name on their worksheet and do one problem of their choosing.
2. When they finish that problem, have them fold their worksheet into an airplane.
3. Line the students up along the outer edges. At your signal, they throw their airplane toward one of the other sides.
4. Students grab the nearest worksheet and do one more problem. They should initial every problem they do throughout the rest of the game.
5. Repeat steps 2-4 until the end of playing time or the worksheet is finished.
6. Students get their own worksheet back and evaluate all the answers contributed on it. Have them leave the original answer but mark any corrections below or beside the original answer. This allows you to track students' understanding across each other's worksheets. Make it clear that students will be graded on what they submit on their worksheet, so it is up to them to catch and correct mistakes.
Caution and Tips:
-Make it clear that these airplanes are not weapons.
-Spot check that students are initialing every problem they do. You'll want to hold students accountable if they don't give real effort AND track how they're doing.
-If students cannot behave according to your expectations during the activity, they can be sent back to their desk to complete the entire worksheet on their own.
-You can play that students have to do the next problem in sequential order (making sure that every student gets practice with every problem) or allowing free choice which problem to do (which allows uncertain students to do a problem they might be more comfortable with).
-To save time, students can complete multiple problems each turn or you can stop the game early and have students finish the worksheet on their own after they evaluate the answer on their page.