Friday, 9 August 2013

What Just Happened????

I am not entirely sure what happened this afternoon in the Pre-CAL Numeracy class. Last class on a Friday, I made a couple of worksheets that students were to complete using information in the Numeracy world. I made it a competition, and maybe I talked it up a bit too much. The activity, a 5 minute challenge, worth a $100 bonus in game. I waited until they were all on Edmodo on their laptops, so they could easily find link to submit their answer. I made them all wait on the desktop and not get into MinecraftEdu on the school computers.

Some students were having computer troubles so I explained the task verbally, gave the students the sheets upside down and stressed that they were not to turn them over until I said so. I thought the sheet was pretty easy to follow, I had planned it out, set it out exactly the way I wanted them to 'think' about the problem and thought it was an easy task and sheet to complete, hence the 5 minute time limit on the challenge.

So I hit the post button on Edmodo, shouted "go" to the students and insanity ensued. But it was not a normal Friday afternoon, students unfocussed, off task and bored insanity. It was a learning insanity, completely unexpected animation and engagement on a Friday afternoon. Students were running around the room, yelling for help, trying to find out the answer, all to get the bonus for being the first to submit the correct response. The 5 minute challenge was not as 'easy' as I hoped for the students. I had another maths teacher in the room, so after a while I asked her what the issue with my instructions and worksheet was. Her response, "They are just too excited to actually read it."

Now that was unexpected, as was the level of excitement over what I thought was a measly $100 in-game cash. I had no idea of the 'power' (I cannot think of a better word to describe it right now) that the in-game currency would have. It has changed poor behaviour, encouraged students to become better organised and even prompted students that have never considered doing school work at home to do some.

I had two activities organised for the lesson, but the 5 minute challenge took up pretty much the entire 45 minute lesson. So now I have a new plan, consolidate the learning from today on Monday by doing another question with the students, only explaining why we do each step. Then requesting that they do a couple of similar questions on their own after that. Then we will move onto task 2, where the students will, again after an example we do together, be asked to work out what the sale price of an item will be if it is to be 18% lower than the purchase price on floor one.

The reason I designed these tasks was to get students working on percentages, as they are soon to be applying for their loan and will need to calculate interest cost and weekly payments for their application. I think that sums up what happened in the lesson, so feel free to leave a comment below, and thanks for taking the time to read.

1 comment:

  1. Sometimes it's scary just how motivating these pretend numbers can be, isn't it? "Power" is certainly the right word - a little item we drop for a student here, a reward we set up there without much thought... it's a reminder of just how effective this "games-based learning" can be... sometimes even we forget! It almost makes you feel guilty how effective of a motivator it can be - it makes you feel like a casino manager or something!