Monday, February 20, 2017

The Infection Spreads!

Last week an infection got introduced to my classroom. How to what it was, how to catch it, how it spreads - none of that was known. Throughout the week students completed problems to receive clues as to the nature of the infection. 

This past week it was revealed: the infection is a virus which affects the midichlorians. When infected, the virus turns the midichlorians to favor the dark side. By the time this was known, half of the class was on the light side and half was on the dark side. There is also a ‘secret agent’ on the light side: someone that is infected, but that does not show any signs. There is also one student in the class that is immune to the infection. 

Both of those came out randomly based on the cards students drew from a deck last week.

 For the past week students have continued to push their cause's side by earning points to win mini-challenges. Students had probability challenges, number challenges, and other games. Light side students got a chance to retry, while dark side students were ‘tossed’ into the Pit of Sarlak. The most recent one was a kahoot battle. Students signed into kahoot as normal, but labeled their side: 

Sides have been set. 

Many of them wanted to name themselves “Darth”, but I told them there are only two sith lords, and they are currently held by the two teachers in the classroom. I also told them they were welcome to challenge us in a math competition to take the title. None have done so yet. 

During the game, students saw the top 5 but also knew EVERY point mattered so they focused on getting answers right.  They reminded each other that getting answers right is better than answering fast and incorrectly. 

Light side leads, but the force is strong with the dark forces. 

When the game was over I totaled the dark and light sides and averaged their scores. That became their points for “final” kahoot (just like final jeopardy.) The leader from each team (the one with most points) got to decide how many points to risk. Other students could help, ask, and beg, but ultimately that student decided the wager. 

From there, students were told one random person from each team would represent their answer. Collaboration during that question could not have been higher as teammates checked in with each other about both the process and the final answer. 

In the end, the light side won this battle, but the war is not over yet.

How will episode II end?

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Explore Like A Pirate: Pandemic Based Game!

Last week a dangerous infection was let loose in math. Nobody knows the source or the cure (well except the teachers, of course), but class has been on edge trying to solve the mystery.

Students walked in on Monday and saw they had a 1 in 5 chance of being infected. They had no idea what this meant, but they were told that by completing problems in class they could start to find clues as to who is infected and how to cure it.

One of my favorites. Why not put it into class?

It was interesting to watch because even though they figured out the theoretical number of students currently infected (four), most chose to work alone because they didn’t want to risk sitting by someone that was infected. This led to a great social studies connection about how fear creates walls.

Students worked on problems related to simple and compound probability and were told that they could draw 2 cards for every 5 problems they got correct (which allowed them to connect ratios from a previous unit.)  If the student draws a heart card, they would get some information about the game.  This allowed students to complete work at their own pace while still being engaged.  Work could be done at home optionally for draws the next morning.  I have never had more students do optional homework than that night.

The right column is very filled with names now.

On Friday I conferenced with students one-on-one while they took a formative assessment. The meeting gave me an opportunity to do many things. I asked them how they felt about the learning targets, how comfortable they were, where they needed to improve. I also informed them whether they were infected or not.  Students that were infected had two choices: They could work for the light side and try to discover a cure to help the class, or they can play the role of antagonist and join the dark side to spread the infection.

Tomorrow they will come into class with a list of actions on the board, some for the light side and some for the dark side.  Actions include trying to cure the disease, spread the disease, mutate the disease to make it stronger, or protect someone from becoming infected.

The Game ends when one of these things occur:

  • Everyone is cured (light side wins) 
  • 80% of the class is infected (dark side wins) 
  • Mr. Taylor or Mrs. Menker says “the game is over”

(that last option allows us to end the game should students lose sight of the objectives or forget rules about physical and emotional safety.)

Students will complete problems (this will be a general review of the term so far) and after each problem they will fill out a google form to choose one action. From there teachers will discern the outcome and let them know the result.

We’re right in the heart of the game and I have no idea how it will turn out. Will students unite to destroy the infection, or will darkness win? I’m excited to see what happens!