external image AC014262l.jpgIn this workshop the use of games using cards and dice to teach math and to practice concepts will be promoted. The book Radical Math, part of the Box Cars & One-Eyed Jacks series, will be used.

Students are naturally intrigued and captivated by math games. Whether a game is simple or complex, the highly motivating materials of cards, dice and multi-sided dice attract and hold student’s attention.

Games fit the research that indicates brief, engaging, purposeful practice is a powerful strategy for developing understanding and mastery of basic concepts. Games can be easily changed and manipulated to suit the needs of the student and the teaching objective. All students play, but with many variations students are able to respond at different levels and in different ways to an activity.

Games allow students to work in a non-threatening atmosphere towards mastery of concepts. When motivating, challenging, problem-solving activities are integrated into games, students are able to learn as they are developmentally ready. By using games, teachers can capitalize on students’ innate desire to play and learn through play. If the atmosphere is positive and flexible, students are more likely to learn.

Games can engage students in a cycle of mathematical thinking. As they play a math game students:
• Formulate questions.
• Create strategies.
• Will often use an unsophisticated “it seems to work” method. Success is a result of experimenting with this trial and error approach.
• Adopt a strategy for methods that work consistently over time.

This type of activity requires the learner to use critical thinking and logical reasoning as
they analyze and become aware of their strategies. Making sense of mathematical ideas, acquiring skills and solving problems is at the very heart of mathematics. Good thought provoking games allow students the opportunity to get there.

Games can provide an excellent experience for students to write about mathematics and their learning. As they develop and analyze their strategies they must clarify their thinking in order to share their ideas with others. Writing responses to game activities helps many students reach this understanding and apply reasoning processes to similar situations. The student realizes the value of these experiences as they can transfer their knowledge to other related experiences. As students play they naturally converse. There are ample opportunities for teachers to informally assess a student’s understanding by “playing alongside”, observing, or having them demonstrate the game. This first hand assessment leads to further instruction.

The math games are multi-sensory and accommodate all learning styles. The cards and dice are tactile and are used as true math manipulatives. Cards and dice are extremely visual with predictable patterns. Students constantly “talk the math” as they play and/or re-teach, making games auditory, and socially interactive in nature. For some students, the physical component of active learning is key to transferring their knowledge to other related experiences (i.e. real-life situations.

If math is a game, then respect and challenge its power and potential as a teaching strategy for effective learning! In this 1-hour, full day, or anything in between, workshop, we will roll the dice, deal the cards and get playing. Everybody wins!