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20 Apr 2020

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Perfect for review, student-paced challenges engage 7th graders with math at home

Alison Vance, middle school math teacher from Massachusetts, shares how she facilitates content review and encourages participation with student-paced challenges while school is closed.

Reinforcing learning and making math more exciting

I teach math to 7th graders and have been using Kahoot! for review and test prep for a few years now. I like hitting different topics or points within that subject one more time before taking a test. Kids like it, and that’s a huge bonus – let’s face it, math isn’t everyone’s favorite subject. Kahoot! rewards kids for doing a good job with their skills and makes math more exciting.

We’ve also been using it a lot during the “extension period” at our school. It’s kind of a more structured study hall focused on enrichment activities. Students play kahoots on their Chromebooks. These extracurricular activities aren’t graded but they work great as a way to reinforce learning.

Content review as top priority while school is closed

Our school shut down on March 13. For now, we are tasked to come up with enrichment activities for kids at home. We aren’t presenting any new material and are fully focused on reviewing topics already covered in class. We give about 30 minutes of work per subject per day for students to work on. Encouraging participation and effort is our main goal at this point.

Once a week, I meet with the kids on Google Classroom chat for a Q&A session. I also host a weekly video meeting on Zoom where we go through some math problems.

A few weeks before our school closed, I discovered student-paced challenges, and I’ve been assigning them to students to complete at home. I like that I can adapt existing kahoots, just edit a few questions, and set them up as challenges – perfect for content review, which, as I mentioned, is our main priority now.

Sharing student-paced challenges with several classes

We do two challenges throughout the week. I share links via Google Classroom, as well as on my social media profiles. I check to make sure everyone participates and ask students to use their first and last name when joining.

Now all 7th graders are playing the challenges – there are about 220 kids from different classes, not only mine. I’m so thankful that you opened up Premium subscriptions so I can have hundreds of students participating.

I like that the kids can do it at their own time and at their own pace. I’m encouraging kids that it’s fine if something happens during the challenge or they make a mistake – only I will see their progress and if they haven’t finished. I allow them to start over, if needed, – then they just add “1” next to their name. I share the leaderboard by email or via social media once the challenge is completed.

My students love Kahoot!, so switching to this way of playing has been easy. They’ve been doing a great job reviewing content at home.

I like that the kids can do it [play student-paced challenges] at their own time and at their own pace. love Kahoot!, so switching to this way of playing has been easy.

How to gear up student-paced challenges for review

Here are a few tips for other teachers who are planning to use student-paced challenges for content review:

  1. Save time and reuse your existing kahoots for setting up challenges – just make the tweaks you need.
  2. After you’ve shared a link to the challenge in your LMS, make sure to remind about it during video sessions and in other channels so no one misses it.
  3. If it’s a math challenge, give kids heads up that they might need a pen and paper to work out some of the questions.
  4. Ask students to join the challenge with their first and last name, not nicknames.
  5. Experiment with the timer when creating the challenge. You can turn the timer off completely, or go back to questions and extend the time limit. Personally, I like giving students a longer timer so they know there is some sort of deadline, but giving them enough time so they don’t feel rushed.
  6. Include students from other classes by sharing your challenge with them!

Have you tried student-paced challenges with your class? This game mode works great for distance learning. Give it a go and share your experience on Twitter!