A colleague of mine told me about this activity, and it has been a lot of fun for the class.
The basics are that the students are in pairs and do one problem on a whiteboard. I check all their answers. Then they crumble that problem up and throw it across the room. When I say stop, they all stop throwing, and pick up a new problem. They uncrumble their new problem, do it on the whiteboard, and the process starts over again.
Each problem has a number, and it’s important that each group puts the number of the problem on the whiteboard, so I can know which problem they did when they hold up their whiteboards. I have the answer key in front of me so I can quickly check if they are right or wrong.
I generally use about 8 different problems. There is a chance that students will pick up a problem they have already done, so if that happens, I just tell them to pick up a new one. At the end of the activity I like to give them a worksheet that has all of the problems from the activity on it.
I use colored paper to make sure that only the problems are getting thrown. I use two colors, and make one color for easier problems, and the other color for more challenging problems.
– I let the student throw paper back and forth, which gets hectic, but they love it. If you want a more controlled scenario, only allow them one throw.
– Make it clear – they must stop throwing exactly when you say “Stop”, and cannot throw until you say “Throw”.
– Use colored paper, and make sure no white paper is thrown.
– A full sheet of paper can be thrown to hard, so be sure to use a half sheet for each problem. Some students may try to crumble a couple of problems together to make a larger ball – big time no no.
– I arrange the desks so that half of the class is facing the other half of the class. Let the students know the back row is the safest place.
– The problems can be hard to read when crumbled a lot, so use a large font.
Here is the one I did for a review on Inequalities in algebra 1.
The Update 1
– Yesterday (at the advice of a colleague) at the end of class I stood in front of the recycle bin and told the students to all throw their papers at me. It has two great benefits: The students love it. It makes cleanup easier because all the paper ends up in the same general area.
– I like to handout fresh problems (meaning problems on paper that has not been crumbled) for the first round of each class because the problems get harder to read the more the paper is crumbled. It also allows me to intentally differentiate by ensuring that high achieving students get the more difficult problems.