Wii Olympics Math

The goal of this week’s assignment is to create a lesson plan that uses technology to teach something with which students have misconceptions.  I chose something that students have trouble learning due to their lack of interest.  My plan is actually for a full unit as that is how I plan.  I start an activity with my students and then interject the teachable moments as they come to allow them to link to the experience.  I try to be as responsive in my teaching as I can so planning a single lesson is no longer how I view teaching.  My project comes in two parts, my unit plan and then the section answering the questions posed for this assignment.  I tried to include as much from the questions in the unit plan but some questions didn’t seem to fit, so you will find those answers after the plan.

Olympic math 1 Olympic math 2 Olympic math 3

If the images are not large enough to read, click on the link below for a PDF version you can save.

Unit Plan for Wii Olympic Math CEP800

Creative Commons License
Wii Olympic Math by Amy Tetz is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

  1. Content:

This unit is not as much about challenging misconceptions, even though there are a few that occur, as it is about getting students to want to learn the information. In the past, this has been the most difficult concepts to teach, as students see no use for them. I am hoping that if students are engaged, they will have more desire to learn the information thus retain more of it.

  1. Pedagogy:

The students will be working in groups of four during this unit. These groups are chosen by me by looking at learning needs previously presented so that each groups experience can be tailored to them. As the students are working in groups, their knowledge will be socially constructed. The calculations are required to move on to the next event so this creates the behaviourist idea of intermittent reward. I am also applying Dweck’s idea of motivation being important to learning and am also applying Vygotsky’s idea of scaffolding to allow all students to participate.

  1. Content & Pedagogy: I would love to be able to have each group work on their data independently or in smaller groups than the whole class but I only have one Smartboard in my room and only one version of the game. Thus, the knowledge has to be socially constructed. I decided on not allowing students to move on before playing due to the large number of my students who will do nothing unless getting something done is in their best interest. When those students are actively involved in their learning, or motivated to learn, they retain more of the skills that they are presented. I hope that with the Wii game their engagement and thus their retention will be increased.
  2. Technology:

I will be using the Wii Console with four remotes. I will be using the Game Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games Vancouver edition. I have chose to use this technology to help increase engagement with the topics. It is possible to teach these units with the Wii as I have done in the past, but I have struggled with having students want to learn the skill and have retention beyond the test. I am hoping that using the game to generate data will help to increase engagement. As well, many of my students are new to Canada and are new to winter sports in general as they are coming from places where the weather is usually warm. Using the Winter Olympic Games allows students some understanding of what the different winter sports are like and can learn some of the vocabulary and understanding of how the sport works. The Technology is a springboard or “twist” that allows students to view the math in a different light. To link the experience of many outside of class to their work at school and more importantly allow those students with no experience the chance to be able to converse with their peers with understanding of how to play a game on a Wii.

  1. Technology & Pedagogy:

The Winter Olympic Game provides just-in-time tutorials to help students learn how to play the event. The game also provides a target line to help students to stay on track. The remotes contain a function that causes the remote to vibrate if the player has gone out of bounds to remind plays to correct their path. The route and out of bounds are clearly marked and a mini map is provided so that students can prepare themselves for what is to come. The game provides images on the ground to remind students of what to do, for example lines that indicate a jump is to happen.

  1. Technology & Content:

The technology I have chosen provides the context for why the skills in question could be useful in the real world. It is also more engaging than pages in a textbook or other artificially generated numbers. I believe students will take more ownership for the learning due to the fact that they had a part in generating the data. In the past, the skills have been very difficult to teach due to student resistance. I am hoping by adding the novelty of playing Wii in class, linking to prior knowledge, and providing context for when these skills will be useful that students will be more receptive to practice these skills.

  1. Assessment:

I have not figured out a way to use the Wii during the summative assessment, only the formative ones. Assessment is discussed in the formal unit plan.


Quest to Master Algebraic Division

This week’s project to create a digital story has been fraught with difficulties.  The first issue that arose was the idea of having images and video of my students at work.  In Calgary, I am bound to protect the identity of my students through FOIP legislation.  That meant no video or pictures of my students, so I was left with the quandary of how to  portray their learning without them in the picture.  I decided to go with showing their pre and post test examples with the component parts of this part of the unit.  That is, it became more of a chronicle of how I tried to elicit learning in my students, not a chronicle of their learning in and of itself.

The next hurdle was imovie.  Since I started using imovie trailers I find that imovie themes are just not exciting enough.  If I am not excited to what what I make, who else will be?  However, the trailers run about a minute long and I knew my movie would be about 5 minutes.  So I converted my trailer to a project, added what else I wanted to include, then looped the audio and recompiled the extended imovie trailer.  To accomplish this project I ended up using imovie, Comic Life, Dropbox, Youtube, Audacity, and Windows Live Movie Maker.  Each tool had something that the others didn’t but combined they worked to create a project I am proud of.

The last problem of the week was that I got very sick and due to coughing lost my voice.  No narration for me!  As a result, I had to find alternative ways to express my thought processes without overloading the presentation.  I know auditory and video work better together than video and text but one does what one has to when overcoming challenges.

I hope you enjoy the journey through the mastery of Algebraic Division.

Podcast on identifying student understanding

So I signed up to finish my Masters of Arts in Educational Technology at Michigan State University instead of stopping at just a certificate.  As a result, here is the my first assignment in CEP 800 Learning in Schools and Other Settings.  This first assignment proved challenging, not because I found creating a podcast challenging nor that choosing a topic was difficult, but because of the government legislation FOIP (Freedom of Information and Privacy) which means that I cannot record any students without parental permission.  To get the paperwork approved by my principal, then up the chain, then to get it out to parents would well exceed my week allowed, so I needed to get inventive.  I have tried to link all possible assignments in my work at MSU to my classroom because my main reason for completing the program is to improve what I do in the classroom, so changing my topic was not a option.

During my Masters’ program at University of Calgary I was introduced to the work of George Lakoff and Rafael E. Núñez.  We read many articles but the majority of our exploration was around the 4 grounding metaphors of addition as discussed in their book Where Mathematics Comes From(2000).  Lakoff and Núñez believe that all 4 grounding metaphors are necessary for students to understand later iterations.  For those unfamiliar with the 4 grounding metaphors, I included a brief summary in the podcast.  During the student interview, I looked for examples of where they are using the grounding metaphors to explain their understanding of addition.  This topic lends not to identifying misconception per say but to finding where the students’ understanding of addition is incomplete and therefore needs remediation.

Below is a picture of what manipulatives were available for the 2 students I interviewed.  I thought seeing them may help with the visualization of what they said.

podcast manipulatives


Here is my podcast which exaimines which of the 4 grounding metaphors a student at the end of grade 3 and a student at the end of grade 4 are able to access, when asked the question “how does addition work?”.


Lakoff, G., & Núñez, R. E. (2000). Where Mathematics Comes From. New York: Basic Books

“The Complex” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/