In a previous post, I claimed that Pokémon Go was simply too popular to ignore. It has captured the attention of gamers, of all ages, across the world.
“Teachers should occasionally invest some time in exploring whatever their students are interested in. Whether it’s Pokémon, Minecraft, Frozen or football – show an interest as part of showing that you care.”
Adam Hill, 2016
In that post, I argued that anything with this level of popularity has a place in the classroom. Teachers should find authentic ways to connect students’ interests to their learning. To revisit that discussion, click here.
That post was written in the summer holidays, on the assumption that my new students would be as addicted to it as the rest of the world seemed to be. In fact, the only reason that I downloaded it in the first place was on this assumption… and I was right. My new class is obsessed! Pokémon Go actually came up in conversation naturally as I was getting to know my students. As soon as one student mentioned it, the whole class seemed to erupt with energy and excitement. The vast majority of students are playing it and absolutely loving it!
While I advocated Pokémon Go’s place in the classroom, the previous post was praised for also acknowledging the understandable concerns that people have regarding this game. As responsible adults, we should not ignore these. The first Pokémon Go discussion in class was based on safety precautions, the importance of playing responsibly and digital citizenship in general.
Luckily for me, an authentic connection could be made between the game and our upcoming learning: data handling. Pokémon Go lends itself perfectly to data handling because the game offers a rich array of data that we can analyse and use. The screenshots above show two ways of accessing data within the game:
The unplanned discussion about Pokémon Go happened just before their music class. By the time they came back, I had prepared this Google Sheet:
The Google Sheet was uploaded to Google Classroom on Friday afternoon and the students were invited to contribute their data to the spreadsheet over the weekend. This was a very full spreadsheet by Monday morning! Students realised that they could reorder the data using spreadsheet functions. For example, they could order the ‘Pokémon trainers’ alphabetically or order the Pokémon by CP, etc.
In class, the students were asked to represent the data visually, in differentiated ways. The examples below are far from perfect, but that’s all part of inquiry learning! They were peer-assessed, reflected on and refined.
At the most basic level, some students used the spreadsheet to count how many times each Pokémon appeared in the ‘Highest CP Pokémon’ section. They created bar graphs to show the most popular Pokémon in our class.
Following a discussion about double bar graphs (is there a more mathematical name for these?), many students decided to represent the ‘caught’ and ‘seen’ data using two different colours.
To challenge my more able students, I wanted them to create pie charts instead. They had seen pie charts before and had some understanding, but they had no idea how to create their own manually. A YouTube tutorial was uploaded to Google Classroom for these students to watch while the teachers discussed bar graphs with the others. The video explained the procedure so that these students could get started without us. We joined these students later for a more conceptual discussion of pie charts and the method.
A few lessons later, once the graphs were refined, we moved onto averages. Using the same Pokémon data, the students were able to calculate the mean, mode, median and range of particular columns. To challenge my more able students, they were given the mean averages and asked to calculate missing values. This really got them thinking! They had to apply their understanding of averages and inverse operations.
I never really touched on the measurement columns because I didn’t want to overkill the use of this spreadsheet. However, it seems obvious that Pokémon Go would also be perfect for teaching measurement. Perhaps we’ll come back to this spreadsheet when we get onto this unit. Students could compare the height and weight of different Pokémon or create models to scale.
The most satisfying part of this unit is how the students’ excitement is ongoing. Several students have been drawing Pokémon at home (these have been added to the maths display) and one child even wrote a Pokémon story at home and shared it with me. Rather than overkill the use of Pokémon, my hope is to keep the excitement ticking over until the next authentic connection can be made.
To conclude, I’ll leave you with this. We had a ‘meet the teachers’ evening this week for parents. This was a comment from one of the mums:
“You hooked them all using Pokémon Go – well played!”
Of course, this is just one way to integrate Pokémon. Have you used Pokémon in the classroom? Do you have any other ideas on how to integrate it? Please add a comment below. I look forward to reading your ideas.