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Perhaps you could use a different approach with your students, like math as a recreation. I have a friend who says "algebra lurks everywhere"! There have been several articles involving the algebra of card tricks. I also use cards with my students to create a game. I have two LARGE PRINT decks. The class is divided into two teams, one team leader for each. You can start off by asking the leaders to take 2 cards from the top of the deck. (You can decide that RED are negative and BLACK are positive, like being "in the red," and whether the face cards count as 10, or 11, 12, 13). The students show their two cards to their "half" of the class. The team that has the largest sum wins the cards. This is like a version of Battle or War. Play continues. You can extend to include multiplication, division, absolute value. You can take the cards to be the values of m and b in a linear equation and the possibilities are endless. You can set up criteria for winning team, rewards, etc. Dominoes make a wonderful number setup, too. You can do lots with fractions, letting the chosen dominoes be coeffients of variables. You can make cards with (a/x+b) - (c/x-b) and let the sum of the domino dots chosen be the values for a, b, and c... There is book by Gail Burrill and Patrick Hopfensperger called Exploring Linear Relationships, published by Dale Seymour, that you might find interesting. Good luck.
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