In 2008, my middle school decided to participate in World Math Day. On this one day, students from around the world are challenged to compete against each other in online arithmetic games, while also working together to break the world record for the number of math questions correctly answered. That year, about 1 million students from 150 countries set the world record by correctly answering over 182 million math questions. In 2009, about 2 million students from 200 countries correctly answered over 452 million math questions.
Teachers can sign their students up to participate. Once the students log in, they can create an avatar. For each game, they have 60 seconds to correctly answer as many math questions as they can. For the middle school level, the questions were basic addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division problems. The students compete in real time against up to three other students (chosen randomly) from around the world. Students can play over and over again. Practice starts about one month before the actual World Math Day.
Mathletics, the creators of this online game, have definitely employed Lepper & Malone’s strategies of interpersonal motivation as follows: Cooperation – students work together to set a new world record. Competition – students compete against each other to see who can answer the most questions correctly. Recognition – the top students and classrooms are recognized on the website’s “Hall of Fame.” There are also prizes (medals, trophies, and certificates) and according to Keller’s ARCS Model, these extrinsic rewards can contribute to a student’s satisfaction.
My students were pretty excited and engaged. I heard them talking about how they competed against a student from India or Australia. My top 7th grade student answered thousands of math questions. Even lower level students were motivated to play and beat their own personal best score.
Sound like something you can use with your students? Then don’t forget to check out their website starting in February for information on World Math Day 2010!