Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Math fun!

Engagement makes my life easier. It makes students' lives easier too. Today I introduced a new math app to my grade ones. It's called Hungry Fish and they get to feed their fish a specific number and he's very fussy. They usually need to combine two numbers to make the desired number. The cool part was that they were so highly engaged by this game, as I was too when I first tried it, that you could hear a pin drop in the room for over 20 minutes. Circulating the room, ALL of them were on task and choosing an appropriate level for themselves. 

I always try to teach them how to select a level that fits them but I don't mind if they like to play with the less challenging levels. Eventually they will get bored and want that challenge. Ultimately, they end up in the right place for them. This is what real differentiation feels like to me: helping students to identify their sweet spot in their learning and understand what real learning feels like. Through this discovery process, they come to know more about themselves as a learner. The next step is going to be helping them to verbalize their learning needs. Easier said than done, I'm thinking.

The neatest thing about today's activity was that the kids discovered something in the game (within about 5 minutes) that I have never known about! They realized that, with enough points, they can change the colour of their fish and design where its fins go. I played this game a fair bit and I did not make this discovery. I'm feeling very humbled in front of these 21st century learners!