This week our assignment for my Emerging Instructional Technology course, our task was to continue playing Kingdom Rush. The catch this week was to collaborate while we did it. I just finished up about an hour of playing the game while simultaneously Facebook chatting a classmate of mine, Rob. We talked about where we were both at (levelwise) in the game and what kinds of strategies we used. Even though we only chatted for about an hour, I learned a lot!
I've been incredibly frustrated because I've been stuck on this level called "Stormcloud Temple" which is the battle designated for having 19 out of the possible 105 stars. I've played the level about four or five times without success and I was getting very frustrated. Rob suggested that I change my distribution of upgrades! For each star you have, you have one point to use for upgrades. Some upgrades are worth more than one star. I leveled up my reinforcement as high as it could go--hoping that would help me.
I was right! Although I still didn't pass the round, I managed to make it all the way to the very end of the level before I was defeated by some kind of troll-like creature. Even though I lost once again, I found myself less upset than before because I came so much closer to meeting the goal.
So. What's the point here? I think, metaphorically, what I learned from the collaboration experience is that we need help from our peers. Sometimes we can learn just as much from our peers as we can from our instructors! As a teacher I need to remember that some students may learn better when working with others--and I need to give them the chance to succeed!
The challenge I pose to all you readers out there is--think hard about what your students need. Give it to them. Change it up! There are more ways to differentiate without providing an entirely different assignment. Remember: fair does not necessarily mean equal.