Before the start of the school year, I went back and forth on whether I wanted to do the Marshmallow Challenge the first day or just jump right into physics.  (That’s always fun.  It completely throws the kids for a loop when the first words they ever hear from me are entirely about physics concepts. )  I finally settled on the marshmallow challenge, mainly because my co-worker convinced me (exactly 1 week before school started) to try out SBG this year.

The kids really enjoyed the challenge, but my main purpose was two-fold:

  • I wanted them to start questioning their definitions of “smart”.  When they found out that kindergarten students performed much better in the challenge than MBA students, we had a nice discussion about what it means to be smart and how to succeed.
  • I wanted them to recognize that “high stakes” situations or incentives do not necessarily lead to better performance.  I asked the kids if they thought they would have done better if I had told them that the winner gets an automatic ‘A’ in the class.  They were initially split but after some discussion decided they may have actually done worse.  (There was some debate with sports analogies.  Some students argued that when their team plays a big rival they end up doing really well.  They soon modified that statement, though.  They do well when they have worked hard and are excited to show off how much they have improved by beating a team that usually beats them.  They end up flopping when they get nervous and overly anxious about the game.)
Overall, a good start to the class and I think this will be a good lead-in to our discussion about SBG.  (I was hoping to introduce SBG on the first day of class, since it is a huge change from what they are used to, but like I said, I made up my mind about SBG one week before school started.  I am still frantically trying to put the finishing touches on my list of standards and recommended practice problems.  I have a feeling it will be quite a bit of work, but totally worth it.)