Have you ever been super excited about “gamifying” a review session (ie: Jeopardy review) only to realize that the competitive feel in the room becomes overwhelming? Each year, around this time, I play a game of AP Calculus Jeopardy with my class. We have just finished learning “new material” and are ready to hit review mode. The game is a way to begin synthesizing material from the beginning of the course through to the end. The timing of this activity usually falls right before spring break, so the Jeopardy game seems particularly appropriate.
Problem 1: Awarding points based on speed —
The one problem that I’ve often run into — Jeopardy is a speed race. And honestly, the last thing that I want is to award points based on speed. I was never the quickest one in the class to respond to answers and I know a lot of times it made me feel like my peers were smarter… which we all know is not the case. But it took me a while to discover this. And so, in my teaching, I really look for ways to allow students to work at their own pace. It’s definitely a huge inspiration behind my flipped classroom.
Problem 2: Students don’t take ‘notes’ during a typical game —
Another issue that I’ve run into in playing games is that students don’t take as careful notes as they typically do during instruction or classwork. Obviously, if they are feeling pressed for time, they are going to just scribble their work anywhere to get to the proper answer. And in a Jeopardy-type game, it’s really hard for students to take “notes” since we are shuffling through categories.
Traditional AP Calculus Jeopardy setup —
So back to the activity at hand — AP Calculus Jeopardy review. Traditionally, l simply split the class into teams, displayed my jeopardy PowerPoint on the projector, and students “buzzed in” when they thought they had the correct answer jotted down on their piece paper. I even tried giving a time minimum (ie: you cannot buzz in before one minute) but then it became pretty arbitrary when choosing who to call on. And that resulted in me losing some of the enthusiasm behind he game. And maybe the worst part of all, students really didn’t have any notes to study from. And the purpose of this activity was to kickstart our review.
Solution 1: New and improved AP Calculus Setup —
Tool 1: PearDeck —
That takes me to this year. I decided to use PearDeck to push out the Jeopardy questions to each student’s computer screen. Briefly, the way PearDeck works is that the teacher creates an interactive presentation within the platform and then students’ log into that presentation from their own computers. The teacher controls the pace of the presentation and students engage with the interactive slides. The teacher receives student responses in real-time.
Tool 2: Wacom Tablets —
I also have a class set of Wacom tablets so that students can handwrite on their screens. Using PearDeck’s drawing question type, I can ask students to use their Wacom tablets + pen to handwrite. One of the features of PearDeck I love is that the teacher can see what students are writing as they are writing! Meaning, as students are beginning their handwritten work, I can see exactly what they’re doing (versus other platforms which require a student hit the submit button when work is complete). In playing AP Jeopardy, I could see which student was coming up with the most detailed, thorough response (in a timely manner); this provided me a way to award points in a way that wasn’t purely time based. And since students were inking directly on the question at hand, I could ask students to take a screenshot of the slide after they had written their response to serve as a resource to study from. I’ll talk more about this later.
I thought PearDeck really enhance this activity in terms of engagement and participation by all students. As the teacher, I could certainly see what individual students were doing and thinking. If they were doing this on paper, I really wouldn’t be able to assess this until after class if I collected their papers. Of course, I circulate the room constantly and look at what students are doing, saying, and writing. But when they are working such complex equations, there’s really a limit to how much I can see when I’m trying to get around the entire classroom.
Tool 3: OneNote —
The next piece of this puzzle was students documenting this activity to be a resource to study from later. This is where OneNote comes in. I had students organize all the screenshots they had taken of their PearDeck slides into appropriate tabs in their OneNote notebook.
With OneNote, all you have to do is drag the image onto the appropriate OneNote page to copy it there. And a huge added bonus — with OneNote’s awesome OCR support, text search within all images works seamlessly. This will allow students to easily search their questions for key words and topics as they do their studying.
Solution 2: Revising answers and reflecting on takeaways —
Finally, I wanted students to think about our game. Again, the purpose of this activity was to help them begin to synthesize all of the material from the beginning of the year and also to call attention to areas where they needed review. And so, since everything was so neatly organized in their OneNote notebooks, I asked students to write corrections and reflections to all of the questions we had covered. I thought this part of the activity was super, as a way to force students to look back over their work in a calmer environment and to ask them to recall what we had discussed on the board when talking about that particular question. Perhaps them knowing that this reflection piece was required helped them stay engaged and focused when we were talking about the question as a class on the board, also.
So all in all, I was super pleased with this activity and will definitely use this format in future games we play. I think this activity is a perfect addition to my student’s ePortfolio, as the reflection piece was built right into the assignment. I also know that having this structure in playing a “game” will encourage me to do similar activities with more frequency. Students always get excited about playing games, so this is really a win-win in my book.