Friday, September 23, 2016

What Drives You?

What drives you? What pushes you to want to do things? I often wonder about the answers to these questions for each of my students. I try to create learning experiences that push students to meet their potential and surpass it. I want them to have fun while learning and learn life skills at the same time. Today I modeled to students how to make up a math game on the spot (but the secret was they had no idea I was doing that until after they played).

Our math lesson today was rounding. We wrote down what we knew about rounding, and then the class viewed a BrainPOP video on rounding and added to their definition. I did some whole class practice to make sure students understood that one number could be rounded to different places. Looking back at me was a lot of stares from kids who were ready to be more active than passive. I made the decision right then and there students would play a rounding math game. I randomly chose a student and got a deck of cards. The objective was to make a four digit number using cards picked out of the deck. The number had to have a digit in the tens, ones, tenths, and hundredths place. Players wanted their number to be smaller than their competitor, except they had no idea what their partner had. Once students had their number they read it out loud and earned 2 points for being the smaller number or 1 point for having a bigger number. I am not a fan of zero points.  Students then had an opportunity to earn three more points by rounding their number to the nearest tens, ones, and tenths place. There was a buzz around the classroom as students went off to play. I heard lots of laughing, numbers being read, and questions being asked about whether or not numbers were rounded correctly. After playing I asked students if they liked the game, and I got a resounding, “That was AWESOME.” I told them I made it up.  A look of surprise came over many of their faces. They quickly realized some ideas best come out on the spot, it is important to test out ideas, and give feedback at the end. I hope some of our students make up math games to practice their skills when they have the chance! Maybe one will be good enough to market and sell.

Transitioning to writing students who had finished their work were given a scenario that I thought of off the top of my head to write about. One student is writing about a mouse going to NYC. We have another telling the tale of a mad scientist who got lost in a polar cave. There is a penguin that decided it was a good time to go to Miami. Students burst out laughing when I gave them their scenario. I heard one say it is important to use imagination, another asked if I was serious, and a third begged me to let him take his writing log to recess so he could work on the story. I love watching students’ eyes open to possibility. That is one of the things that drive me.

Feel free to view this Ted Talk. Daniel Pink, author of Drive, shares his thinking about the puzzle of motivation. 

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