Last month, as a result of my ongoing cogenerative dialogues, me and my students coplanned and cotaught a lesson. It was nothing fancy, but I was so excited about how it went that I asked the next cohort of cogen students if they wanted to plan and teach a lesson with me. They were game! And I say that literally because we ended up designing an actual board game to play with the class. We called it Infinite Levels.
Gameplay consists of players rolling a die to make their way around a large infinity sign. Players land on spaces marked with a 1, 2, 3, or 4, which denote the level of problem they must answer to earn points (5, 10, 15, or 20 points, respectively). There are also “blackout” spaces (no points can be earned if landed on them) and “Second Chance” spaces (earns the player a card that is akin to a “Get out of Jail Free” in Monopoly; they get another try at answering the problem that they initially answered wrong). Players can steal problems from other players, too. The goal of Infinite Levels is simple: earn the most points. Each of four the tables in the room ran its own stand-alone game; my cogen students prepped all the materials the day before.
I documented the design process of the game with my most recent Meditations posts. Let me tell you — what a ride! Having never created anything like it before from scratch, I underestimated how much work and how many decisions we would need to make. From the game board, to player movement, to content, to implementation, there was a lot for us to consider and then reconsider.
We decided to play over the course of two days. This would give us enough time to really settle into the game. To explain the rules to the class, one of my coteachers created this slide:
The extra time we spent on the details of the game paid off because, after some initial hiccups, it didn’t take long for the class to get into the flow of the game. As my coteachers and I floated to check solutions, there was a noticeable buzz in the air. Several students got so into it that they even stood up while they played. Some groups were laid back and others were fiercely competitive. It was all good fun. All the problems were selected by me and based on recent concepts we learned, so some groups naturally needed more scaffolding than others in solving them. My coteachers and I had the answer key and provided hints when necessary.
On the exit tickets, we asked the classes to rate playing Infinite Levels on a scale of 1-10 (1 = horrible, 10 = amazing). The average rating was 8.1. Not bad! Here was some specific feedback the students gave us:
- I liked the fairness everyone gets when tryng to solve the problems
- I liked the extra turn we got if the original team got it wrong
- I really liked having fun with a little competition
- I liked how it refreshed my mind on older topics
- There should be a time limit on answerng the problems, like 3-5 minutes
- There should be drawings on the board, it was just plain
- The game should have more variety of problems
A few days later, at our next cogen, I asked my coteachers and a few other students about how they thought the game went. They echoed much of what was on the exit tickets. We agreed that timers were needed for each table to keep the game moving along. When we were designing Infinite Levels, we talked about having a space where a player would get points from other players (similar to how the “Collect $50 from each player” card works in Monopoly), but forgot to include it in the final version of the game. That would have been a nice twist. When I asked whether they would like to play again, everyone nodded without hesitation. One of my coteachers recommended that I get the boards laminated for future play, which was a great idea. I can totally see us playing again once Regents prep starts.
I must say, it was only the second time, but coteaching with students is kind of catching on. Students are starting to see that it’s a thing and I’m definitely enjoying it. Given these last two lessons have been based on a game and not tied to any particular Algebra 2 topic, I would like to coplan a lesson or series of lessons around a specific topic with my cogen students. Logarithms and polynomial long division immediately come to mind, both of which we’ll be studying in a few weeks. Focusing on a particular topic would require more content-specific planning from us, but it would provide a nice challenge for the cogen. We could even co-author a lesson plan for it, too, which would add depth to our planning.