I did this lesson with Precalculus students, but it would work easily in any subject that studies probability.
We just had spring break, and the week prior to that was an “Alternative Curriculum” week, where teachers get to teach things other than their typical classes and students sign up for what they’re most interested in. Great idea, and was really good this year. Maybe I’ll write a blog post about it sometime. Prior to that, we let out school after Wednesday due to parent/teacher conferences.
Anyways, all that to say, my students have been 2 and a half weeks away from school, and I needed something to kick-start their memory concerning the probability unit we left off half-way through. So here’s my plan for review.
- The students will use the augmented reality to view one of many objects I have created for them. The objects include: a glass with various colored marbles, a group of colorful stick-figures, or a deck of cards, among other things.
- They must write a question concerning that item. Example: “What are the chances of drawing an Ace?”
- Everyone will rotate to the next station and view the object, as well as answering the question the previous group left behind. The new group must now create a different question, and turn in their answer (with the question) into a box I will have in the middle of the room.
- Later, I’ll sort through the questions and choose good ones to re-use when assessing, as well as check for understanding and comprehension.
I will explain to them that the purpose of this activity is review, so they shouldn’t make the questions too hard or too easy. The perfect question is a challenging question that makes the next group think, but they can still answer it.
EDIT: Here are the QR Codes you can scan to view the Augmented Objects. Below that is the question/answer template I used. Feel free to take them and use them yourself.
Note: when moving the students, I wanted to shift them around in a unique pattern so that they were not always following the same students, and thus always answering the same classmates’ questions.
Students enjoyed this activity, in part because of Augment, in part because they got to walk around the room. Here are some photos and video of their interaction.
Pros and Cons
One pro of this activity are that students are actively engaged in the creation process as well as the answering process. They have to think critically to make the question at just the right level, and yet they have room to think creatively. I had a question or two in mind for each augmented object as I created them, but I was hopeful that some students would come up with creative and interesting questions for each other.
The activity got the students asking the right questions and had them discussing important points, but it didn’t quite push them as much as I had hoped.
This was also a very quick activity (about 15-20 minutes), which was good because we had a lot more administrative-classroom stuff to do (like starting our blogs).
One con is that students couldn’t always read (legibility) what other students wrote. You got to see that in one of the videos above.
Another con is that students didn’t always ask the best questions. Even when the questions weren’t 100% clear, students just tried to answer “as best as they could” instead of asking for clarity and helping each other perfect their questions.
Advantages of Using Augment
You could argue that this could be done just as easily with real objects. However, I think that the surprise of “oh, this is what we’re looking at now” adds a level of focus and intimacy with the creation of the questions. Otherwise, each student would be able to see the other stations from across the room and know “what was coming”, reducing interest and letting them perhaps feel like “well, the next group knows what’s coming, so what’s the use?”
You could also argue that I could just as easily have used QR codes, link to Dropbox, and shown an image instead. This would be fun, but somewhat removes the “wow” factor. I really think that viewing the objects in 3-D amps up the interest just enough to make the task more than worthwhile. Furthermore, with pictures, I would be limited in certain situations. For example with the glass holding the marbles, students would simply be counting a 2-D image. Instead, students had to consider “do I really need to know how many of each there are here?” and then attempt to count in 3-D, which improves their spatial reasoning, however slightly. It also generates discussion and the need to check each other on the results.
Summary & Improvements
I was glad the students got to experience this, but it perhaps wasn’t the best activity to do after such a long break because the students weren’t able to challenge each other enough to recall the questions. My warm-up asked them “what’s the difference between a combination and a permutation”, and I was hoping to get more questions oriented in that direction, but there wasn’t a whole lot of that happening. Next year I might do it as a review activity just before a test, so students will be more prepared to ask (and answer) tougher questions.
I had a TA type up the questions and answers into a Google spreadsheet, so you can see the level of engagement and the depth and creativity of their questions (or lack thereof) by clicking on that link. We might do something with those in Precal soon.
Ideally I would use something like Google Forms so students are entirely using the iPads, and we can review the questions afterwards (without requiring that the TA type up the questions). However, I couldn’t figure out a way for the students to only see the latest question & answer exactly that one. If you find a program or website for that OR can get Google Forms to behave in that way, let me know.