Yesterdays year 8 Maths class was a continuation of Minecraft algebra, my learning intention was that students would be able to build and interpret algebraic equations. So we started with our basic wood tool set again, and put a cost on purchasing logs. I pulled $5 from thin air and we based our calculations on that. As a class we used that to come up with a cost for the planks and sticks. I then went through a worked example for calculating the cost of purchasing the materials needed for a wooden pickaxe on the board. Students were then given the task of calculating the cost for each of the other tools individually and then also the cost of the complete set, in a specific algebraic way, as per my example.
About 40 minutes later, after students we given the task of calculating the stone set in the same manner, there were students who wanted to do 'book' algebra. Now this is a very interesting comment to make. "Can we do text book algebra please?" This does not concern me in the least, they can still meet my learning intention through using the book. What interests me is, what do they see as the difference between the algebra they were asked to do about Minecraft tools, and the algebra in the textbook?
After thinking about this a bit, and I will ask students today when I see them again to see what they say, I think that maybe they thought that the textbook algebra would be easier, and that the algebra I was getting them to do, made them 'think' too much. There was one student who wanted to continue with the Minecraft calculations, she finished the iron set, asked me to do it too, and we compared answers. Interestingly enough, both of us made some simple errors, but came to agreement in the end as to the costs of each tool and the complete set.
A very quick post today to share my thinking, if the students responses today are interesting I will probably be posting again later. Thanks for reading.