Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Some of Justin'sDiscoveries through using Maths Games in Teaching

NOTE: Justin is encouraging teachers to purchase his games, that is for individuals to decide. I concur with his philosophy and findings. Len Cooper
When I first started to work on the use of math games in the classroom, I was amazed at what I began to see happening! Here are a few of my discoveries about games where children can learn and practice math:
Many of the games lead students to talk mathematics.
Games forced students to justify their reasoning.
Games put pressure on players to work mentally.
Games did not define the way in which a problem had to be solved or worked out.
Students began to explore and learn new strategies by working and talking with each other as they played.
A game could often be played at more than one level allowing the teacher to differentiate instruction.

Games and Assessment
Teachers who observe and interact with children while they are playing math games can diagnose a wide variety of their mathematical strengths and weaknesses. In assessing learning through math games, teachers' concerns are not just confined to the children's levels of factual knowledge. Rather, they may also note, record, and analyze the following:
reasoning and problem-solving skills,
the forms of children's responses,
the processes that children employ in solving problems and arriving at answers,
children's patterns of persistence and curiosity, and
their ability to work with peers, adults, and a variety of resources.

In addition, the recording sheets that children produce while playing games can be placed in assessment portfolios, where they can be of great value to children, teachers, and parents.

Finally, games provide children with a powerful way of assessing their own mathematical abilities. The immediate feedback children receive from their peers while playing games can help them evaluate their mathematical concepts and algorithms and revise inefficient, inadequate, or erroneous ones.

Good games evaluate children's progress. They provide feedback so that teachers, parents, and the child know what they have done well and what they need to practice.

Calculators can be quite helpful for settling questions about answers, executing complex calculations, or keeping track of players' cumulative scores. Use your judgment as to whether calculators will speed up or defeat the purpose of the game.

Recording Sheets
Many of the games include recording sheets. Recording the problems solved while playing a math game can leave a mathematical trail that is of great value to children, teachers, and parents. Children can feel a sense of accomplishment as they look back at all of the math work they have done; teachers can use the records for assessment; and parents will appreciate this "evidence" that their children are actually doing mathematics and not just playing games.

Many people think that a quiet room is one in which learning is taking place. I strongly disagree with that tenet. When children are playing games, they need to be able to talk with each other. This talk can be very constructive if children take responsibility to make sure that all players in a game understand the algorithms, concepts, and facts being used within the game. Sharing strategies with each other helps everyone see different ways to play.

The bottom line is: Teach each other and learn from each other.

Competitive Versus Noncompetitive Games
Most of the 42 File Folder Math Games have been designed as competitive games where the high scorer wins. All can be transformed into games where the high scorer is not the winner or into noncompetitive games.

For example: Children can roll a die. If the number rolled is an even number, the player with the highest number or score wins the game. If an odd number is rolled, the player with the least number or score is the winner.

Many of the games can be played in such a way that players keep track of their own individual scores over a period of days and try to better their previous day's scores. Children can enjoy keeping graphs of this information themselves.

Math Should Be Fun!

Basic Facts Learning

A hardy annual is the lament from teachers and parents alike, that the kids do not know their tables. As a shopper I am often perplexed at how the shop assistant has to use a device to find the cost of 2 items at $1.99, instead of 2 @ $2 minus 2 cents.
As a consultant I encouraged teachers to help their students see connections between the various facts rather than  learning/memorising 100's of isolated facts: When learning 6 + 3, why are we not encouraging them see 3 + 6 as well as the reverses 9 - 3 and 9 - 6.  We usually call these a Family of Facts.  This should mean that learning 6 + 3 gives 3 other facts at the same time.
I also encouraged looking for patterns in the tables; doubles, fives, Tens, and then ideas such as +9 is like adding 10 and taking away 1.   Similar ideas for Multiplication Family of facts can also be applied.
Once explored chunk the learning down to small pieces! I have never come across a student who can not learn 6 x 9, 9 x 6, 54 ÷ 9, 54 ÷ 6 overnight, provided there is support from home.

Justin Halliday also suggests the use of maths games which require mental use of facts is also a great way to assist memorisation:
All too often I hear teachers lament that their students don't know their basic math facts. In class, students guess, freeze up, count with their fingers, or appeal to their friends or the teacher to help them out.

Why is it so important for children to memorize math facts in order to succeed academically? Quite simply, a lack of fluency in basic math fact recall significantly hinders a child's subsequent progress with problem-solving, algebra, and higher-order math concepts.

This can have a serious impact on a child's overall self-confidence and general academic performance.

The guidelines of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) state that second graders should be able to quickly recall basic addition and subtraction facts, and fourth graders must have quick recall of multiplication and division facts.

Everyone agrees that students need to learn the basic facts, but there's far less agreement among educators about how this can best be accomplished. Many drill and practice programs have been developed to help kids memorize the basic combinations by rote. The theory is that if children hear or practice 9 plus 7 equals 16 repeatedly, they'll eventually just remember it. Doing this with worksheets or flash cards can be boring and student engagement is low.

Almost every elementary teacher struggles to find effective ways to encourage students to master these basic math facts. I have found that math games meet the varied needs of learners, offer opportunities to differentiate instruction, and are effective, motivational, and engaging.

Whether you're a new teacher, a teacher new to teaching math at a different grade level, or a veteran teacher looking for a fresh perspective, I would encourage you to give math games a try. Games engage children and enhance their math learning.

The following game is a great one for helping third, fourth, and fifth graders learn their basic multiplication facts.

Multiplication Fact Feud
What you need: deck of cards
2 players

Teacher decides the particular multiplication fact to practice (i.e. x7, x4, x8, etc.)

Once the constant factor is determined, that card is placed between the two players. Players then divide the remaining cards evenly between themselves.

Each player turns over one card and multiplies that card by the constant in the middle. Players must verbalize their math sentence. The player with the highest product collects both cards.

Example: 5 is the constant
Player #1 turns over a 4 and says "4 times 5 equals 20″.
Player #2 turns over a 7 and says "7 times 5 equals 35″.
Player #2 would collect both cards.

In the event of a tie (i.e. both players have the same product), each player turns over one more card and multiplies that by the constant factor. The player with the highest product wins all four cards.

When the cards are all used up, the player with the most cards wins the game.