World Maths Day

I tried something new this year with my students … World Maths Day!

What a success! I introduced it as something I wanted to try and wanted them to try, but didn’t have much information to provide the students. They continued to ask more and more questions, but to no avail, walked away with no answers from me … except for that the start day would be the very next day.

I distributed a username and password to each student that I received when I registered them. (I entered all of my students, via the period in the day I taught them.) We each logged in and created our avatar … this was so much fun for the kids to do. They spent hours creating an avatar that fit them personally – and I did too!

Once the contest began, I was able to determine that the student names I entered went into a large database, based on their age group. As they participated in the contest, their attempts/scores were compared with other students in their same age group all over the world. The entire contest contained 5 levels, each getting progressively harder. All levels dealt with basic computation skills (adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing), with Level 1 only focusing on addition. By Level 5, students were asked to solve problems from all four operations. 

***As a side note, I was a bit disappointed that the contests were only “testing” the basic skills. My sixth grade students are able to do so much more, and I felt that the levels were quite below them. I wasn’t sure how they would react to this.***

Each student chose the level they wanted to compete at and the computer program then found other students of the same age, who were also logged on at the same time, from around the world to compete with. As the program was selecting students, the world map and country flags were shown representing each student in that competition. The students had 60 seconds to solve as many problems as possible. Within the small group competition (4 students total), they were then ranked. If a student completed the round in 1st place, they received a gold medal by their avatar.  Conversely, if they got 3 wrong during the 60 seconds, they were disqualified from that specific game.

The entire contest lasted 48 hours. Students could participate as much, or as little, as they wanted. For those students who spent the most amount of time on the site, one visual image they loved seeing was the Mathometer. The visual was a thermometer-like image, and the color level would rise as more problems were solved correctly. Meanwhile, the actual number of correct problems was also being counted up.

As their teacher, I was able to log on and see results. The results told me what levels the students attempted, how many games each student tried at the different levels, what their percentage of improvement was, as well as their percentage of accuracy. Here is a snapshot of what I could view: 

 As you can see, some students visited the site much more than others. What I liked seeing was that some of my lower-end students were some of the ones who spent more time competing than others … and these were also the same students who improved their percentage of accuracy the most. Some of my original worries about whether this site was going to interest the students because of the basic level of math was no longer a concern of mine. What I liked seeing was that students were intrinsically motivated to compete against others, as well as themselves (by looking at their improvements in how many correct they could solve in the 60 seconds). Kudos to them!

If asked “Would I do this again next year?” … my answer would be “YES, absolutely!” … purely as something for students to do, on their own time, to increase their mental math skills.