By: Cathie Travis, MEd, Middle School Mathematics Faculty
When you hear cheering coming from a math classroom, chances are students are immersed in a math game. After all, who doesn’t love playing games? Games are an engaging way to get students motivated. Some classroom favorites are Kahoot, Jeopardy, Bingo, Set, Decimal War, Math Jenga, Bullseye Bounce and Mathketball.
While students see these types of games as a fun opportunity to challenge their classmates, teachers see it as an excellent chance to observe students as they explore number concepts, patterns and computational strategies. Game-based learning also provides students with the opportunity to deepen their mathematical understanding and reasoning through an engaging and fun learning approach.
Some additional benefits that we see when playing math games include:
Developing strategic and computational mathematical strategies
Strengthening computational fluency and problem solving
Providing students with a structure that encourages productive discussions about mathematical concepts and vocabulary
Helping support different learning styles
Improving interpersonal skills
Allowing teachers to observe and assess students understanding of the concepts
Fostering a positive attitude about math
Games are also a valuable way to support a school-to-home connection. By playing games at home, parents can observe their child’s mathematical thinking. After playing math games together, students and their parents are encouraged to take the time to reflect on the mathematical skills that were practiced, strategies for playing the game, different strategies to try when playing again, how to make the game more challenging, or how to change the game to focus on different skills.
Carol Dweck, Stanford Professor of Psychology, refers to another important skill that we value at Forest Ridge,
“It’s a ‘growth mindset’—one that allows a learner to believe his or her basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work . . . By making it fun to fail and try again, games can be a wonderful vehicle for teaching growth mindset. Games don’t inherently teach growth mindset, but the concept can easily be incorporated, and the results can be dramatic.”
- Forest Ridge Blog