Savvy teachers start maths competition

The savvy teachers and students at Dalby State School caught the attention of the staff here at EdAlive with their amazing use of the program! Interest was piqued when two classes from the school hit high numbers of questions answered on the Weekly Leaderboard. Eager to know more, investigative journalism was undertaken by EdAlive staff Bree Ives and Jessica Woods …

Dalby State School teacher, Lachlan Hordern was happy enough to give us the inside scoop!

Classroom of students using computers
Who will win this Math Invader showdown?

A challenge

It was a dark and gloomy afternoon, with a breeze that chilled to the bone. Five days had passed since the commencement of term. It was time to head out for Friday sport, but the wind was colder than a brass toilet seat – a polar bear’s toenail would have been warmer. No one wanted to brave the elements, despite the usual enthusiasm for afternoon sport rotations. After some consultation, students from 5/6D came up with a cunning plan to fulfil the weekly physical activity requirements, get warm and get out of the classroom. Challenge the class next door to a test of cunning, speed, strength and accuracy.

“Challenge accepted!” chorused 5A with much vigour.

Unfortunately for 5/6D, that class next door annihilated them in every variation of the game “medic” for the rest of the afternoon.

Fast forward to five weeks later when our Technology Ambassador gave word that we had been signed up for Math Invaders trial. After a little experimentation from both classes, 5A decided to present their own challenge to 5/6D. Simply, who can get the highest score in a week.

Taunts could be heard exchanged through the partitions in an attempt to antagonise the opposing classes …

“We’re going to destroy you!”
“Are you looking for another opportunity to be annihilated?”
“We’re going to wipe the floor as we trample over your class!”

… and that was just from the teachers!

As the week drew to a close, 5A found themselves having to eat humble pie. It was 5/6D’s turn to claim victory, dominating the leader board for the majority of the week. The students had fun and encouraged each other in their quest for domination and when they saw the opposing class on Math Invaders, they would rally the troops and go into battle, so to speak.

A programme

As we were both working in the conferencing stage for an assessment, there were often a number of students who had everything finished and had a few moments to spare while waiting their turn to work with their teacher. We would set 15 minutes of time allocated to a specific area of mathematics, usually times tables and once the time was up we would let them start from the beginning of the Galactic Campaign.

We found it useful to use as a warmup for maths lessons, aiming to do 10-15 minutes each day. Even after a week there has been significant gains in automaticity. The Galactic Campaign starts at a prep level, which was useful for all the ability levels. If the students were proficient, they cruised through the content, targeting their speed, or it was useful for aiding the students in the lower two bands.

The elements that we liked about the website were:

  • The leaderboard – refreshed regularly during our fierce competition
  • The ability to select content for the whole class and for individuals
  • Individual student reports on the various topics. Being able to see the problems they attempted and how they answered them was very valuable
  • Generating printable worksheets. The worksheets are practically the paper version of the online content.

*cough* *cough* “I’m feeling sick. What can I get the class to do for maths today that would be useful and not a time waster, while I’m away?”

The website is easy to use, setting the content is simple, checking their progression is logical and the repetition enables automaticity.

Student quotes

  • “You can have fun and do work at the same time” – Dan and Belinda
  • “You get to learn your times tables and division facts” – Sophie
  • “You can learn times tables and have fun at the same time” – Sally
  • “I like the idea that they took Space Invaders and made it into a math game” – Jett
  • “It’s really quick, fast paced and a fun way to learn your times tables” – Ella

Words by Lachlan Hordern. Special Thanks to Renae Little, Nev De Waele and the staff and students of Dalby State School.

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