Sunday, 3 April 2011

Mario Kart: WEEK 4! "It's Working!"

This was another great week bringing Mario Kart into the classroom, this time a grade 2/3 split. In this split, students were fairly evenly matched, though there was the need to differentiate in the math portion for an IEP student working below grade level.

Literacy Centers
The Literacy Centers were primarily the same as last week in the Grade 3 class. Again, the big hits were Luigi Writing Centre, Donkey Kong Listening Station ( and the script reading at the Yoshi Reading Centre.

One of the best parts about this project is witnessing the excitement as I 'unveil' each of the Mario Kart literacy centers and explain what you do at each center. And then the expressions of excitement when students realize which center they will be going to next, especially when its a center they are very interested in.  "Yes!" "Awesome!" (This is exactly what I want students to be saying about literacy!)

Math was similar to two weeks ago, with the focus being on double addition for both the Gr. 2's and 3's. Again, I created Mario word problems while students used place value mats to demonstrate their answers. They also used the 'stoplights', holding up green, yellow and red if the answer was odd, even or greater than 50. (To differentiate, I handed those 2 students separate Mario Math questions at their level and also different criteria for the red stoplight (ie: numbers greater than 15, rather than greater than 50). They also got the same colouring sheets, just with different questions).

Again, what as I've been finding in the other classes, this theme brings a lot of excitement to math. Everyone is keen to sort the game times (data) and determine the winner for the various races (Yoshi, Mario, Donkey Kong, and Luigi). Everyone is keen to answer the questions and do the colour sheets. I'm often asked 'can we keep these?' 'can I take these home?'.

It's working! Having done this now in 4 different classroom, I can tell you anecdotally that this is working. Yes, it needs a bit of tweaking here and there sometimes, and also could be expanded (as I've mentioned previously) into larger, more elaborate lessons. But the general response from the students is overwhelmingly positive.

I've also taken a preliminary look at my data from my first class, and already I can say that the student response to the literacy centers is greater for the Mario Kart version. I take this as their way of communicating: we like this. More, please!

I also enjoy hearing the spontaneous comments of appreciation. In this class, one boy says, quite seriously, out of nowhere: 'thank you, Mrs. Johnson, for bringing the Mario stuff to our class'.

(I've also had other students from other classes stop me in the halls to thank me. Mostly boys. Some more than once!)

Next week's Gr. 4 class brought their consent forms back in record time. I even had a boy stop me (2x) in the halls to let me know he'd brought his form in and was ready to go!

This will be my first junior class next week and it should be a lot of FUN! Check back in one week as I write up the details!

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