AP Calculus Jeopardy review –“Gamifying” with OneNote and PearDeck

Today’s post was written by Stacey Roshan, High School Math Teacher at the Bullis School in Maryland.

Have you ever been super excited about “gamifying” a review session only to realize that the competitive feel in the room becomes overwhelming? Each year, around this time, I play a game of AP Calculus Jeopardy review with my class. We have just finished learning new material and are ready to hit review mode. The game is a way to begin synthesizing material from the beginning of the course through to the end. The timing of this activity usually falls right before spring break, so throwing in a Jeopardy game seems particularly appropriate as a way to enliven the classroom before the vacation.

Using OneNote to take the game beyond simply an in-class experience certainly enhanced this activity. Requiring students to make corrections and write brief reflections on the problems they solved in class forces them to look back at the questions we had solved together. I think this assignment really gives some closure to the activity. And I love the fact that students create an organized, searchable resource (ePortfolio) to study from! So how did I make this happen?

My top three goals in setting up this activity were to:

  • Have this activity to become a resource students could study from later.
  • Increase participation from all students.
  • Avoid having the game to turn into a speed race.

Here are the problems faced in reaching these goals and how I solved them with the tools, like OneNote.

Problem 1: Awarding points based on speed

The one problem that I’ve often run into is that Jeopardy is a speed race. And honestly, the last thing that I want is to award points based on speed. I was never the quickest one in the class to respond to answers and I know a lot of times it made me feel like my peers were smarter, which we all know is not the case. But it took me a while to discover this. And so, in my teaching, I really look for ways to allow students to work at their own pace. It’s definitely a huge inspiration behind my flipped classroom.

Problem 2: Students don’t take notes during a typical game

Another issue that I’ve run into when playing games is that students don’t take as careful notes as they typically do during instruction or classwork. Obviously, if they are feeling pressed for time, they are going to just scribble their work anywhere to get to the proper answer. And in a Jeopardy-type game, it’s really hard for students to take notes since we are shuffling through categories.

Traditional AP Calculus Jeopardy setup

So back to the activity at hand—the AP Calculus Jeopardy review. Traditionally, l simply split the class into teams and display my Jeopardy PowerPoint on the projector. Students “buzz in” when they think they have the correct answer jotted down on their piece paper. I even tried giving a time minimum (i.e. you cannot buzz in before one minute) but then it became pretty arbitrary when choosing who to call on. And that resulted in me losing some of the enthusiasm behind the game. And maybe the worst part of all, students really didn’t have any notes to study from. And the purpose of this activity was to kick start our review.

Solution 1: New and improved AP Calculus setup

Tool 1: PearDeck

This year decided to use PearDeck to push out the Jeopardy questions to each student’s computer screen. Briefly, the way PearDeck works is that the teacher creates an interactive presentation within the platform and then students’ log on to that presentation from their own computers. The teacher controls the pace of the presentation and students engage with the interactive slides. The teacher receives student responses in real-time.

Tool 2: Wacom tablets

I also have a class set of Wacom tablets so that students can handwrite on their screens. Using PearDeck’s drawing question type, I can ask students to use their Wacom tablets + pen to handwrite. One of the features of PearDeck that I love is that the teacher can see what students are writing as they are writing!

AP Calculus Jeopardy review  1

Session dashboard view in PearDeck; updated in real-time.

When playing AP Calculus Jeopardy, I could see which student was coming up with the most detailed, thorough response (in a timely manner); this provided me a way to award points in a way that wasn’t purely time-based. And since students were inking directly on the question at hand, I could ask students to take a screenshot of the slide after they had written their response to serve as a resource to study from.

Which takes me to tool #3….

Tool 3: OneNote

The next piece of this puzzle was to have students document the activity to have as a resource to study from later. This is where OneNote comes in. I had students organize all the screenshots they had taken of their PearDeck slides into appropriate tabs in their OneNote notebook. With OneNote, all you have to do is drag the image onto the appropriate OneNote page to copy it there. And a huge added bonus—with OneNote’s awesome OCR support, text search within all images works seamlessly. This allows students to easily search their questions for key words and topics as they do their studying.

Solution 2: Revising answers and reflecting on takeaways

Finally, I wanted students to think about our game. Again, the purpose of this activity was to help them begin to synthesize all of the material from the beginning of the year and to call attention to areas where they needed review. Since everything is so neatly organized in their OneNote notebooks, I asked students to write corrections and reflections to all of the questions we had covered. I thought this part of the activity was a great way to force students to look back over their work in a calmer environment and ask them to recall what we had discussed on the board when talking about that particular question. Perhaps them knowing that this reflection piece was required helped them stay engaged and focused when we were talking about the question as a class on the board.

AP Calculus Jeopardy review  2

Example of a student correcting work in their OneNote notebook.


All in all, I was really pleased with this activity and will definitely use this format in future games we play. I think this activity is a perfect addition to my student’s ePortfolio, as the reflection piece was built right into the assignment. And I think the game mentality of Jeopardy encouraged students to engage with their full energy. I will admit that I was worried that there were several moving parts to this assignment, but it really didn’t turn out to be a problem. Note that most of my students have Macs, so I don’t feel that OneNote is limited to only those with PC’s!

To learn about more interactive activities using technology in the classroom, read my TechieMusings blog and follow me on Twitter @buddyxo.

—Stacey Roshan