Hey, kids, wanna come over after school and study math? The two students we gave this tempting offer stayed until the office closed and we had to leave. It’s been like that all week.
This is what kids playing our new math game look like. I would insert a video but it is not so interesting to watch in some ways. They all wear headphones, because there are usually 14 or 15 kids playing at a time and they quickly get to very different levels. What you see is kids at a computer clicking a mouse, typing numbers, staring at a screen – engrossed. Our scheduled 30-minute sessions today both morphed into hour sessions.
Don’t get the wrong idea – we are coming home with a HUNDRED fixes, small and large. Some are actual problems – the main one being that children naturally want to explore the virtual world and they wander off into the woods and get lost. We need to add more barriers in more places. Most are ideas to make it better – add more hints, add more places to click and get stories on Dakota culture, more supplemental materials for teachers, new levels, more complete compatibility across browsers and operating systems.
Unlike a lot of companies creating educational software, we spend days in classrooms with students using the game. We ask teachers their opinions and then we go back and make those changes. We ask kids what they would like to see. We also look at the Common Core Standards and the state standards. Let me say something about state standards that is probably not a revelation to anyone very familiar with them – the percentage of kids who meet state standards varies WILDLY by socioeconomic status. The proportion of kids who can divide a three-digit number by a one-digit number is vastly different depending on the average income of your zip code.
We intend to change that.