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Mystery Boxes Review Game


I recently saw a Facebook post referencing a teacher’s use of post-it notes from Naeir for a review game called Stinky Feet.  The timing was perfect because we were going to be reviewing the next day for a polynomial test.  However, instead of using post-it notes, I decided that I could do “better” and make a digital game for Stinky Feet. 

Designing my App

I coded the app in’s app lab and went through a couple of iterations of the design before I decided on my final design.  I also decided the name Stinky Feet did not match what I made, so I changed the name to Mystery Boxes.

In my app, the team is chosen from a dropdown box. I have 8 groups of 3 – 4 students in each period, so I designed the app to work for 8 teams.  Once a team is chosen, a box 1 – 5 is chosen to award points to the team.  The mystery is that the point values for each box are randomly generated by the computer and change every time the box is clicked.  The random value is from -2 to 5 points.  The score is automatically updated based on the chosen team.

The reset button allows you to quickly reset the game for the next class period.

Playing the Game

I displayed a problem for the students to solve.  Each student worked the problem on their own paper.   Then I randomly picked one member of each team to write their answer on a white board at their group.  My desks are labeled with playing cards, so I would pick a suit (club, heart, diamond, spade).  If a group did not have someone sitting at the chosen suit, another member of the group would write their answer.  Each group held up their answer and every group that had a correct answer would come to the board to choose their mystery box.  My new interactive short throw projector had just been installed and calibrated so this was a great way to use it.

Updating the App

Because the computer was randomly assigning the point values every time the mystery box was chosen, it was possible that the points were identical in multiple boxes.  Some students did not realize they had already received their points and clicked again.  So I made a small change to the code so you have to choose a team after every time a box is clicked.

Mystery Box App

Feel free to use my app in your class.  If you do, let me know how it goes. 

Year 13


This week marked the beginning of my 13th year of teaching.

So many things this year are “new”.  I have a new principal and a new assistant principal for the first time in seven years.  I am teaching one section of a new course called Algebraic Reasoning.  I am using Canvas for the first time.  And I was invited to become a T3 Instructor earlier this month.

I am still teaching Pre-AP Algebra 2, but I specifically requested one section of Algebraic Reasoning so that I could try standard-based grading.  My Algebraic Reasoning class is small (19 students) and almost 50% are SPED.  It has been 9 years since I taught a class with a co-teacher, but I have a wonderful co-teacher that is going to help ensure that I am meeting the needs of all my students.

For the first time in my teaching career, I received a present from a current student on the first day of school.


Inside was a Ghirardelli Milk Chocolate Brownie bar.

Then on Tuesday, the following conversation occurred between a current student and myself.

S: Ms. Kelly, you are my third favorite teacher.

Me: Third favorite?!?  Who are your first and second favorite?

S: My color guard and choir directors.

I guess if extracurriculars are going to outweigh math, I’ll take being the third favorite.

I shake hands with my students as they come in the door, but that student had her hands full when she came to class on Wednesday.  She decided to give me a hug instead.

Finally, I had 35 students make a 95 or higher on their Unit 1 Prerequisite Skills test.  I haven’t looked to see how that number compares to previous years, but the star cut-outs that I put up are new.  I have had a star student wall since my first year teaching, but I bought a different set of stars this year.  I really like how they look on the bulletin board.


Badges and Bulletin Boards


I was inspired by Sara Van Derwerf’s post about crazy math badges, so I created some for my department.

Math Department Badges

We have several bulletin boards in our math hall that have been bare pretty much since they were hung in the hall 1.5 years ago.  I saw Sara Van Derwerf’s post about her math wall of shame and knew that one of those bulletin boards was going to have something on it this year.  I printed a few of the photos she had available and posted them on one of the bulletin boards.

Wall of Shame

I thought if I was going to have a math wall of shame, I should also have a math wall of fame.  I found pictures of all the teachers in the math department and posted them on the bulletin board next to the wall of shame bulletin board.

Wall of Fame

Thank you Sara Van Derwerf for your inspiration.

There are still four more boards that do not have anything on them at the moment.  One of them will have our department’s tutoring times.  If you have suggestions for the other three, let me know.