Week 2 – The Tip of the Iceberg

Gamification has started! If you have been following this blog over the summer, then you know that I am making a change to gamification and mastery learning in my calculus classes this year.

The students will get credit to spend in the market for doing what they are supposed to do: completing their homework, having their parents be involved. They will get more credit for doing things that go above and beyond: participate in back channel, teach class, post to youtube, research…

Some of the students are struggling with the flipclass model, combined with the study of limits, and they are not having a super great time.  The biggest problem is that students are wanting to understand everything that they see right away.  My mantra this week was “Hang in there!  There will be very few topics you get right away this year.”  Encouraging them to constantly ask questions has been my top priority.

One of my personal goals to to get the students to be active in the back channel during class or at home.  I want it to be the first place they go to for questions or ideas.  But this is a habit that will need to be guided and taught.  I am hoping that by mid-September or early October this is a thriving part of our class.

The other thing that has been a little difficult for the students is that they are used to having a specific deadline.  I told them that the goal is to try and get through four quests by winter break.  When you learn and are ready, move forward, if you are stuck and not ready, then keep working.  This has been completely different than all of the meet this deadline, that deadline, its late take a penalty on your grade business that they have grown up with.

On the other hand, teaching students about the mathematical idea of a limit can be really challenging.  They are so fixated on exactly what is happening at a point that they have a hard time “seeing” what is happening as you get infinitely close to a point.  I started talking about the annoying game this year – and I think that helped.  You know the game, in the back seat with a sibling, you put your finger really close to them, but don’t touch.  They get mad, your parents tell you no touching, you defend yourself by stating that you didn’t touch anyone….

On the backend of the gamification is the credit system.  I have put together a Google Form and worked really hard on the Google Sheet that it populates to try and keep my weekly maintenance to a minimal time investment.  I am excited for the students to start earning different things and see how they use them.  I am also excited to see what impact this will have on those that have not saved up enough credits to purchase anything.

Off to a pretty nice start!


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