In February of this year I registered my elementary school in the annual World Education Games which brings together millions of students in some healthy competition to race against others in the same age category to answer math, literacy, and science questions. On March 6th, the official event started and students jumped on the site to gather as many points for themselves, their class, and school as possible.
How Does It Work?
The competition is open for student (aged 4 – 18) and adults and a teacher can register their school into classes and printout login cards for students to keep. The site is open a few weeks before the official event day, allowing students to familiarize themselves with the site and play practice games. This “warm-up” phase is great because it keeps track of how many games and correct answers each student collected. Students play in 60 second rounds against two or three random players in their same age group; they also have 5 difficulty levels to choose from.
The event day began when it turned March 6th in Samoa’s timezone and continued for 48 hours after that. The main rule for this stage is that only the answers from the first ten rounds in each level will be counted toward the student’s score count. Students who complete all ten games in all five rounds are recognized with a distinction certificate.
Implementation and Reactions
After registering all students in the elementary school to the website using their easy to use upload-csv feature, I printed out the login cards and began promoting the event. I started by emailing teachers and introducing the initiative, and clarifying that the World Math Day participation will not cut from classroom time. I then scheduled 10-minute slots for each class to explain the event to students by either going into their classrooms or bringing them to my lab. Thanks to a great suggestion by my colleague, I drafted a letter to go home for parents also outlining the event and highlighting ways they can support their children.
Because we were not going to use regular classroom time to let students to play on the website, I opened my lab during snack and lunch recess for the duration of the event. During the warm-up phase, I updated a top-ten score sheet daily for kids to see the rankings. At the end of the event, I went into classrooms to recognize the top scoring student with an award. To wrap up, I emailed teachers and parents with a thank you note highlighting our achievements in the competition.
The event was a success for our school considering it was the first year that ECA has participated. After looking at all the stats, I estimate that there was about 90% participation. I’m glad I opened the computer lab for students during their break times to play. There was an incredible amount of attendance, often all the computers would be occupied leaving some math-hungry children very sad. Following my colleague’s advice to email parents was also a smooth move. Parents became very involved, emailing me with questions and “thank you for finding this tool for my child” comments. Presenting this activity as something students could only do outside of class time, gave kids extra motivation to come in during their recess time and participate from home. The competition factor also boosted kids’ excitement to challenge themselves and inspire others. Students would stop teachers in the hallways with “I scored 130 points last night before going to bed!” and “I played a round with somebody from a school I used to go to in 3rd grade!”
What I would have done differently would be to dedicate 20 minutes for each class to have them come into the computer lab and practice logging in and playing the game. Having that extra time would allow me to show them hints such as using the number pad to type the answers instead of the main 1 to 0 keys in a row. It would also be the ideal time for me to explain some of the rules regarding scoring and difficulty levels.
Our students collectively brought in over 204,000 correct answers in this 2013 edition of World Math Games. I look forward to our participation next year and breaking the record!
What have been your experiences with World Education Games?
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