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!


  1. This is awesome. What grade do you teach?

  2. Thank you! This is being run in a 7th grade math classroom.