Monday, April 9, 2012

Never Too Old to Play a Math Game

By Vicky Rauch (Scipi)

Teacher Pay Teacher Store Front: Scipi

Students are smart and want to learn, but many are terrified of math. These students are referred to as mathphobics.

We all have these types of students in our classrooms, whether at middle school, high school, or college levels. When working with these types of students, it is important to bear in mind how students learn. Teachers can refer back to the Conceptual Development Model, which states students must first learn at the concrete stage (uses manipulatives) prior to moving to the pictorial stage, and in advance of the abstract level (the book). This method uses lessons with different manipulatives.

Games are an easy way to introduce and use manipulatives without making students feel like little kids. The level of mathematical difficulty is controlled by varying rules. Games are customized to meet instructional objectives students are learning. However, as with any classroom activities, teachers should monitor and assess the effectiveness of games.

When using games for learning, think about:

1) Excessive competition. Games are to be enjoyed rather than being “fights to the death”.

2) Mastery of mathematical concepts is necessary for successful play. Mastery should be at an above average level unless teacher assistance is readily available when needed. Games should not be played if concepts have just been introduced.

3) Difficulty of rules. If necessary, rules should be modified or altered so students perform well.

4) Physical requirements. Remember students who have special needs. These should be taken into account so all players have opportunities to win.

In addition to strengthening content knowledge, math games encourage students to develop skills, such as staying on task, cooperating with others, and organization. Games allow students to review mathematical concepts without risking being called “stupid”. Furthermore, students benefit from observing others solve and explain math problems using different strategies.

Games can:

1) Pique students’ interests and participations in math practices and reviews.

2) Provides immediate feedback for teachers. For example: Who is still having difficulty with a concept? Who needs verbal assurance? Why is a student continually getting the wrong answer?

3) Encourages and engages reluctant students.

4) Enhances opportunities to respond correctly.

5) Reinforces or supports positive attitudes or viewpoints of mathematics.

6) Students test new problem solving strategies without fear of failure.

7) Stimulates logical reasoning.

8) Requires critical thinking skills.

9) Allows student to use trial and error strategies.

Mathematical games give learners numerous opportunities to reinforce current knowledge and to try out strategies or techniques without worries of getting wrong answers. Games provide students with non-threatening environments for seeing incorrect solutions as steps towards finding correct mathematical solutions. 

Scipi's Related Teachers Pay Teachers Products:
Bug Mania Two Math Games Using Positive Negative Numbers  $1.79
Roll and Calculate: A Math Game Using Positve & Negative Numbers  $1.69

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