Successful Strategies in the Classroom
Our virtual world, Fog Stone Isle, is a fun, engaging way for students to play games within the world and learn fraction concepts in a meaningful context. Students have the flexibility to choose how they want to construct their world and can work at their own pace while teachers are able to monitor progress using the teacher workstation. For example, students get to decide the type of buildings, farm plots, and corrals they want to build and how and where to build them. The use of games within Fog Stone Isle is also a great way for students to review fraction concepts that they may have forgotten in previous lessons.
While students are individually working in Fog Stone Isle, educators use the comprehensive teacher workstation to monitor progress. The teacher workstation breaks down fraction topics into a sequence of conceptual leaps where each concept must be mastered before moving on to the next one. At a glance, as students are working, teachers can monitor the concepts that students are proficient in and the ones with which they struggle. A teacher can quickly determine if she needs to re-teach a concept for the whole class, for a few students, or for just one student. By clicking on a student, the teacher can view more detail in terms of the student’s conceptual understanding and procedural fluency. For each concept level, she can view the percentage of problems the students are getting correct and view their performance on recent problems. For procedural fluency, the teacher can take a closer look and determine if the student is fluent with easier and harder problems. Additional analysis of general student skills are included such as mastery of multiplication tables, gleaned from performance on a variety of tasks. Sometimes a student may struggle with fraction operations just because they are not proficient in their multiplication facts.
Developing Lessons with the Teacher Lesson Tool
Teachers can use their own virtual worlds to create a custom lesson specific to the needs of their students, project the lesson to the class, and elicit student participation. For example, in the building game, if a teacher wants to re-teach a lesson on how to add fractions with unlike denominators, she can specify the problems she wants to use. The teacher has a great deal of flexibility in the way the lesson is taught. For instance, the teacher can choose to use the sketchpad to illustrate the meaning of fraction addition or choose to have a student explain how he or she would solve the problem with or without the use of the sketchpad.
Students love to show off their virtual worlds and share their ideas with other students. At the beginning of a student’s adventure on Fog Stone Isle, a unique island is generated. Each island is populated with multiple terrains and no two islands are alike. As students play games to construct their individual virtual worlds, they can show off their worlds to their peers. Many teachers choose to let students project their virtual worlds on the large screen as they discuss their creations. Some teachers choose to have a classroom gallery walk, so all students get a chance to observe their peers’ virtual worlds and gather new ideas for their own worlds. As students create their worlds, they also have the opportunity to explain to the class the fraction concepts they used to develop structures. When students create buildings, they master fraction addition concepts; as they play the farm plot strategy game, they become proficient in fraction multiplication concepts, and as they construct corrals, they become competent in fraction division concepts.
Differentiating Assigned Work
We know that students work at their own pace while learning new concepts. The quest tool allows teachers to assign differentiated homework. The teacher needs to specify how many problems they want students to solve, and the tool will automatically generate a quest for each individual student based on their individual adaptation levels. The tool also gives teachers a detailed view of how each student performed on their homework.