Saturday, 26 March 2011

Mario Kart: Literacy Centers and Math WEEK 3

This week I took the Mario Kart game into yet another Grade 3 classroom!

Literacy Stations:
This class has similar literacy centers to the other Gr. 3 class so I kept them the same (except for Peach's EQAO Surprise. This class had 5 stations instead of 6, so we left that one out).

Again, the centers that generated the most enthusiasm were:
  • Yoshi's Reading Station (reading then writing Mario based scripts), 
  • Donkey Kong's Listening Station on the computer (a task that involves listening to Mario-based music and watching a Mario you tube video, then writing responses via google docs), 
  • Luigi's Writing Station (using a 'describing wheel' organizer to describe a character, kart, or setting, or create a new character, Kart or setting)

And, as usual, the word work centers (Mario spelling and Bowser word wall work) generated the least amount of enthusiasm! I have noticed this in all the classes I've been in. It's not that the students don't do the work at these stations, but more that they seem less enamoured with it and happier when they get to do the other stations. This may be because, even though it had a Mario spin to it, it is still the same tasks repeated. Or perhaps its because word work (grammar and spelling) is inherently boring no matter what the spin on it? (I'm not sure, and I'm going to be pondering this over the next while.)

In this class, there was a LOT of obvious excitement for the writing center, with student creating their own Mario Kart characters, such as Lightening Bolt, Big Teeth, Devil Player, and Grandma Bowser.

I have noticed that the Mario math I've done generates a lot of excitement and engagement and this class was no exception.

After we sorted the racing times and crowned 'the winners' of the four races (see previous post), we started our Mario Kart math task.

This time it related to Multiplication. Students in Gr. 3 in Ontario need to know their multiplication facts to 7x7. Also, for the EQAO assessment in May, they need to be able to show their solutions through pictures, numbers and words.

I broke this lesson up into 3 parts.
1. I stated Mario based word problems that they had to draw a picture to solve, then translate into an equation. They also had to be prepared to explain their solution orally, for I was selecting random names for responses. If if their answers were even, odd or over 20, they had to hold up the corresponding red, green or yellow 'Mario Kart stoplight' card. (This picture shows 3 Karts with 4 wheels each, so how many wheels altogether?)

2. I stated multiplication facts that they had to 'show me' using Mario & Luigi manipulatives. And again, if their answers were even, odd or over 20, they had to hold up the red, green or yellow 'Mario Kart stoplight' card. (This picture shows 4 x4).

3. A Mario Kart colouring page with multiplication facts on it and a 'colouring key' (with odd, even, or over 20 answers requiring a specific colour).

Reluctant Writer Writing! In this class, there was one very reluctant writer who usually requires a fair bit of prompting to get anything down on paper, who, when facing the writing task at the writing center, sat down and started writing WITH NO PROMPTS and EVEN ENTHUSIASM, filling the description wheel almost fully with accurate descriptions. Frankly, I was blown away by this. That pretty much made this whole project worthwhile in my book!

Kids like the game play! When I did my informal interviews afterward, the students made it very clear that their favourite part was the game play. So while I think you can include the game in other ways (see previous post and comment below) using it as a video clip or what have you, I think it really helps connect the students to the game if you let them have a round of play. It takes 2-3mins approx. for a round of racing. I had everyone race individually, so I could get the time at the end for a math tasks but you could easily race 4 players at a time, which would give everyone a chance to experience the game in a fairly quick amount of time. If you don't use the data for math, there's so much more you could do with the gaming experience: have students write reviews, or describe the experience or whatever. At the very least, it familiarizes everyone for any writing task related to the game.

More ideas! The classroom teacher and I were brainstorming other ways you could expand on these literacy activities, which, as I mentioned in my previous post, could be developed into 'meatier' whole class tasks. We talked about using it to build characters (especially given how enthusiastic the students were about creating their own Mario Kart characters). You could even just take the character selection screen and use that to start a description activity, with everyone choosing and describing inner and outer qualities.

Next week I will be in a Gr. 2/3 class, then after that the grade 4's get a turn!

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