Learning While Playing

In the April 30th edition of Education Week, Sean Cavanagh shares that students can improve mathematical skills while playing board games [Playing Games in Classroom Helping Pupils Grasp Math]. Exposing youngsters from low income backgrounds to simple board games that involved counting produced lasting gains in understanding of numbers.

Young people learn a great deal about the world through play and games are one of the sources of play Games that build an understanding of numerical magnitudes are crucial. Games offer math teachers a way of practicing and reinforcing arithmetic and other math skills. [See posting on mixed-age learners.] While games engage students, they also offer an opportunity to present high level concepts in a colorful and simple way. Educators and parents reluctant to game activities have difficulty with the idea that something can simultaneously be fun and worthwhile academically. (Cavanagh 2008)

You will find a spot to explore learning and playing for elementary students at the website- www.kinecticcity.com. Sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, this site is designed to draw students who might otherwise be intimidated or bored to explore science through simple technology activities that are fun.

One activity on gravity has students guide a spaceship from Earth to a docking station, using a computer mouse to operate the vessel’s thrust, angle, and launch. Students must account for the force of the Earth’s gravity to keep the ship on course. Try playing a few rounds of Slush Rush to see what Math thinking is practiced in the activity.

For older students try the algebra activity, Coin Problem, at the National Library of Virtual Math Manipulatives. You will find it under Algebra 9-12. Check out www.edportal.com for activities tied to lesson plans and standards.

Performance Learning Systems is offering an online graduate course for teachers interested in Simulations and Gaming Technologies for the Classroom. It offers strategies to engage students in complex problem solving, sophisticated collaboration, and creative expression through the medium of video games. During the course, participants evaluate learning games to determine their effectiveness and suitability for the classroom. Participants become familiar with contemporary gaming technologies, enabling them to understand the pedagogical models behind games and how gaming models may be used for learning.

Hope you soon have an opportunity to PLAY and LEARN.

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Steve Barkley

For the past 30 years, Steve has served as a consultant to school districts, teacher organizations, state departments of education, and colleges and universities nationally and internationally, facilitating the changes necessary for them to reach students and successfully prepare them for the 21st century. Read more…

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