Sample Dialogue from
Image © Theatrix. Used with permission.
Puzzle: Dance 'Til You Drop
A, a ten year old girl, is playing Math Heads. As she plays Dance 'Til You Drop, she is joined by B, a researcher who asks her questions while she plays. These clips represent about four minutes of play.
--A: (to A2) I don't know how to control it!
--B: Let's see... (giving directions with the mouse) you've got to click and drag it and then... let go when you are ready.
--A: Ok.. 132...
--B: What do you think the answer is?
--B: Excellent, so... [A moves the dancing platform to include 100 in the range of the answer.] You did it!
--A: (pantomines breathing heavily) 31 plus 24... oh... I don't know.
--B: You don't have to be exact, you can just count the 30's (pointing to the screen) and the 20's, what's 30 plus 20?
--A: 30 plus 20... 50.
--B: And then you can just.. (pointing at screen)
--A: 50, ok, ok.
--A: (concentrating on moving the mouse-gets it successfully) Yay!!
--B: Nicely done.
...later in the same play session, again the Dance 'Til You Drop activity is just starting... A is now sitting with a different researcher, A2.
--A: What does this mean?
--A2: (pointing at the screen) Here's the problem.
--A: (smiling) 58... no, 48... This way... no no... [She's having trouble manipulating the mouse.]
--A. gets the correct answer and dances in her chair.
--A2: Now the next one.
--A: I got two, yay! (A. clicks the mouse a bit.) I know, 29! (correct) Yay! (mumbling) ... 80... 85... (to A2) I don't know, it doesn't go...
--A2: You're trying...(pointing at screen; inaudible)
--A2: You see?
--A: It's there! (pointing at screen)
--A: Six.. sixty.. 60. Yes! ... 9. (The platform shrinks away to nothing and the character falls through the floor.)
When the rest of the children in the study left to go home, A wanted to stay and continue to play Math Heads while we packed up our things. Although the math seemed a bit difficult for A, she persisted, with the help of a researcher. This play session does include some mathematical discussion, albeit not very much. Of all the video recorded play sessions we have of Math Heads (almost 140 minutes), it was very hard to find much, if any, talk about mathematics. Even though children did sometimes investigate, play, and become engaged with some of the math activities, the time pressure in the majority of these games prevented thoughtful discussion of the problem at hand or strategies for arriving at solutions.
Puzzle: Get a Head
S, F, T, and A, all girls aged 9, 10 or 11, are playing the Get a Head activity. In this activity players design surrogate characters by choosing a body, a head, and a hat of some sort, as well as a personality (a name, where the character lives, and what s/he likes). This dialogue represents a little over two minutes of play.
--: Yeah, try this!
--A: (pointing) Do something on her.
--F: That's her, I'm doing my own. Yes.
--A: That's cool, that's her.
--S: That ain't no good...dressing like that, are you nuts? (laughter)
--S: This one! Lookit, try an apple-head.
--A: That one! (giggling)
--S: Come on... oh my god
--A: That one!
--F: I'll try this.
--S: Ohhhh (groaning) no she's not
--F: Nooooo. (S. and F. are fighting over the mouse and laughing.)
--F: Nooo nooo I don't think.
--T: She doesn't think at all!
--F: (to T) Ok your turn.
--F: Ok you can change your piece and everything.
--Game: Can you help me out here?
--T: No! I cant! (clicking)
--S: At least change her clothes.
--F: Can't change her clothes.
--T: Yes you can.
--T: Awesome? Right..
--S: Yeah, right.
--A: (pointing) Go to this part, go to this part
--T: This part? Her neck?
--A: That's her head.
--T: That's her head?
--A: Well just put it.
--A: I don't like that hat.
--S: Do something.
--F: They look like they're sisters, they look like they're sisters.
--A: Should we do it, is there more, more heads?
--S: This is ugly.
--A: Is there more heads?
--F: You're being mean.
--S: I know...
--S: Try this one, try this one.
--T: (says something but drowned out by the giggling)...
These girls are clearly engaged with Math Heads. What they are not engaged with, however, is the mathematics present elsewhere in the game. Different combinations of these 4 girls spent 40 minutes playing Math Heads and spent all 40 minutes on Get a Head. This trend was also present in this study as a whole.
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