Monday, May 21, 2007

Puzzle #2

Puzzle 2 in the Algebra 2 treasure hunt...


Anonymous said...

could you explain the treasure hunt? Is this in preparation for a final... or just a year end project? How's student motivation?

Where do you get your inspiration for the puzzles (besides Sir Conan Doyle)?

Dan Wekselgreene said...

In the last few weeks before the STAR test, I used the first 10-15 minutes of each class to practice STAR-type questions. To increase engagement, I created a jigsaw puzzle that, when assembled, would lead to the first puzzle in a treasure hunt. The students worked in groups of 3 or 4 on the STAR questions, and got one piece of the puzzle for each question they got correct. It was timed so that most of the groups would complete the jigsaw in the last class or two before the STAR test.

The jigsaw puzzle lead them to a teacher, who had the first puzzle in the treasure hunt. Each puzzle requires the students to review key concepts from previous units, and then do a little bit more (research, decoding, etc.) to finish the puzzle. Each puzzle leads them to another teacher and another puzzle. When they have solved the last puzzle, the location of the treasure chest (currently hidden somewhere on campus!) will be revealed and the first team to get there will win the prize. This was a sneaky way to get them to start reviewing for the final early on.

In terms of motivation, the jigsaw puzzle worked great. The students loved getting their pieces - and I could do the occasional "For one bonus piece, which is the first group that can...". Once the puzzle was completed, and the STAR test was passed, unfortunately, a lot of the motivation left them. Right now, only 2 of the 6 groups are still really competing in the treasure hunt. It's too bad - I thought more of them would have maintained the excitement. But, there is no grade or assignment attached to it - I wanted it to be something just for fun (and education, of course) for those who wanted it. I came up with the idea later in the year, so I hope that, through greater hype next year, I can build more momentum leading up to the big event. The students still working on it, though, are really enjoying it. The leading team is currently working on puzzle 6 of 8.

In terms of inspiration, definitely it has come from playing Perplex City!