We learned more about the excitement from Mrs. Prestridge herself. See her responses below:
Q: How did you come up with the idea for a Mario themed lesson? What was the planning process?
A: The process that went into planning the Mario Kart activity had many factors. First, we had just taken the TEK check for writing. There were a few TEKS we needed refinement on so I knew I wanted to review in a way that would possibly have more of an impact. Second, I also knew we had limited time before the Writing STAAR test, so I needed more bang for my buck. I had done a very similar activity with my students when I taught in LISD, but we focused on informational text. I took the decorations I had and the concept of stations, or in this case levels, and applied them to revising and editing. When I used the Mario Kart theme before, I got the idea from a blog post that Hope King had written. She also uses the Mario Brothers theme to review her student’s learning.
Q: What were the different levels? What did the students have to do to complete each level?
A: For level one we reviewed homophones. Students had to read the passages and answer questions dealing with homophones. When students answered correctly, they physically got to ride carts to the next level.
Level two was revising and editing. Students read different passages and spent time revising and editing grammar mistakes made in those passages. When students answered the questions correctly, they hopped to level three.
For level three we focuses on punctuation. Students read passages and sentences and edited the punctuation. When students answered the questions correctly, they were able to physically ride karts again to the next level.
In level four students were revising and editing again. Students read more passages and spent time revising and editing those. When students answered those correctly, they jumped on the hopscotch trail to get to level five.
Level five was another editing review. Students received “text messages” from friends and had to edit the text messages to show the proper grammar: capitlization, punctuation, spelling, end marks, proper nouns, etc. All of which are common errors in every day texting. When students correctly answered those questions, they were able to slide through a tunnel to get to level six.
The final level’s challenge was to rescue Princess Peach by solving a riddle.
Students were able to earn gold coins just like in the game, but in the class, coins were earned by cooperative work and staying on task.
Q: Why are projects and hands-on learning like this important for your students?
A: I definitely think they take more away from their learning when they are doing projects like this because it gives them an anchor for their learning. I can always refer to the activities and say, “You know how to do this, remember when we did our Mario Kart project?” Nine times out of ten it triggers their memory. I also think when they do activities like our Mario Kart Day, they learn cooperation, that learning can be fun, and strategic thinking.
Q: What was the best part for your students and for you?
A: The best part of the whole day was when the lightbulb went on for several students that have been struggling with revising and editing. There wasn’t a grade attached to the activity, but they couldn’t move past each level without getting the answers right, so it helped the students stop, think, and use what they know.