Plotting points on a Cartesian plane becomes more and more important as students get to higher levels but the practice involved in learning this skill can be very dry and boring. So i decided I would make it into a game that is commonly known by junior high students.
It came to my attention that Battle Ship was very similar to a cartesian plane and it would easily adapt to a cartesian plane. Through trial and error, I found the following formula worked well for students in my grade 8 and 9 classes.
Each student received a dry erase board and two different coloured dry erase markers. I would have the students use one of the colours to create their grid that they would use for the game. I would show the students what their grid should look like on the board and then I would check the students who I knew struggled with creating the grids.
If there was a lot of time, I would have them make their grids from -8 to +8 on both the x- and y-axis. If there was less time, or I wanted them to work through multiple partners I would have the make their grids -4 to 4 on the x- and y-axis. I would manipulate everything in-between to ensure that the game fit the attention span of the particular class.
For the students who struggled, I would make sure that they had written the number in each line so that it was easier to follow. For some students, I would have the grid ready to go for them when they entered the class.
I would have them trade markers with a student who had another different colour so their ships were a different colour than their guesses and their parters guesses.
From their I explained that they could use one colour to mark where they guessed, typically using an X when they hit a ship and an O where they missed and the other colour would be to mark down where their partner had guessed.
Typically battle ship doesn’t require you to record your partners guesses but it provides a way for me to check and see if anyone is having troubles with their graphing. It is easy to compare what the two partners have written down and then figure out which one is struggling. Some of my more tidy students preferred to write down their partner’s guesses as coordinate points on a separate page so their grid didn’t get too messy. I also had some students who would use two grids, one for their guesses and one for their partners guesses.
From there they would play until there was a winner and a loser. I would do a quick check to make sure that the graphing was being done correctly by both parities. As students finished, I encouraged them to make new partners with another group who had finished and play again.
I found that the first time through the game with students, they were a little slow and needed a lot of assistance but once they had played once they could do it again with ease. I would have my grade 9 students play 4 or 5 times a year to make sure that they are mastering their graphing skills.
After the first run through with the students it was a great activity to leave with a sub because they were relatively self sufficient and just needed to be told what size of grid to use and how many of what size ships. I personally would use a wet erase marker and give the sub a sample board to show to the kids, ships plotted and all.
Feel free to send your questions and comments my way!
Miss Math Tutor
I have taught math for 5 years and am always looking for and developing fun, innovative ways to create meaningful learning for my students.