Teacher Review for Motion Math: Pizza!

Terrific game that motivates students but it does take a LOT of supervision and supplementation because there are a ton of embedded math and economics concepts!

Justin B.
I am a math specialist for special programs teachers across the county and help facilitate appropriate use of instructional tools (particularly technology) in the classroom as it pertains to math.
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My Subjects Math
My Rating
Learning Scores
My Students Liked It Yes
My Students Learned Yes
I Would Recommend It Yes
Setup Time Less than 5 minutes
Great for Creation
Further application
Knowledge gain
Small group
Student-driven work
Teacher-led lessons
Whole class
Great with Advanced learners
Low literacy
Special needs
How I Use It
So at first, I had the teacher load the game onto each iPad individually and each student started to work independently. Unfortunately, this led to a lot of going from student to student to start having discussions about the game. Students can independently work just fine on the game and progress because it is a very simple straightforward game. It's easy to have success. The issue then becomes more of a problem of making sure students are getting something out of the game rather than just trying to win. Yes, they MAY make the connections between larger profit margins on certain pizzas and higher demand for pizzas with lower profit margins and choosing vendors with lower unit costs but for many struggling learners, this won't be apparent. So, I would strongly recommend an implementation that consists of a whole class introduction to the game via whole class projection. Then I would divide students into heterogeneous groups of 3-4. After they understand the game after a class discussion, I would give them an assigned amount of time to play with the game. Regroup after they play with the game and have a class discussion about what they observed. Come up with key questions to ask. What did you notice about pizza ingredient prices? What cost was the same every time (water and gas)? What cost changed every time (ingredients)? Have the students come up with questions about the game. The next time they play, have them take on roles they are responsible for such as the ingredient buyer, the pizza creator, etc. Make sure that those people LEAD the discussion for their role instead of just doing the role by themselves. After these roles are identified, have the small groups play again for a fixed amount of time. When you come back together, really get into the discussions about each part of the game to determine the best way to play (students MUST lead this conversation). Once you come up with great strategies, have the whole class play the game together and tell you what to input into the game for maximum profits. Stop the game at each phase or for each problem to discuss. Discussion is the key!
My Take
What a great concept! It's very easy to set-up for individual students. Load the app ($3.99 in the App Store) and follow easy instructions to get started. Once you start the game, it walks you through basic tasks (buying ingredients, making pizza creations, and selling). The kids I helped LOVED this! As students play more and more, they are working on many different skills simultaneously (economics including profit margins, fixed and variable costs, division, multiplication, repeated addition, etc.). Now that said, because there are SO many different skills that are being tapped into, it's IMPERATIVE that teachers really design lessons carefully and supervise students as much as possible. I would recommend group activities and projecting (if possible) the game to model for students and create discussions. The discussion is invaluable. We have to remember that there are kids of many different levels. One aspect of the game I didn't like was the fact that customers would go away quickly if students were too slow in calculating a price. For students with fluency issues, this led to frustration. It may then be a good idea to rotate roles for small groups playing the game. One student can lead discussion about ingredients, another about pizza creations, rotate the calculations for each customer, etc. The game may seem simple but there are a lot of things to consider when playing. In fact, it tells you when you select a vendor that charges more than another requiring students to calculate unit cost! Pretty amazing concepts in such a simple game. All-in-all, it's a valuable teaching tool but like I said, it does require a lot of planning and supervision to make sure kids connect the game to math and economic concepts.