Friday, December 19, 2014

The Power of Math Games

Making Math Fun

A few years back the district that I worked for adopted a new math curriculum.  Overall it was a big improvement from what we had been using (Everyday Math).  The biggest change we began to notice as we went through training on the new curriculum was that it made the jump from concrete to abstract much quicker.  I'm sure you're thinking... "What? concrete to abstract?"  Hang on, let me explain...

What I mean by concrete is hands-on experiences with math materials and manipulatives.  The majority of the students at my former school are English language learners and live in poverty.  Even in second grade they still need those hands-on experiences manipulating the materials before they can do the math in their heads and on paper.

What I mean by abstract is the ability to do the math using strategies in their heads or on paper.  The new curriculum moved very quickly out of the concrete phase and required our second graders to perform their math skills at an abstract level.

So we as a second grade team had to make sure and build in extra time for our students to use the manipulatives.  Sometimes (well quite often, actually) we fell behind the pacing schedule but we always manged to catch-up by the end of the trimester when it came time for the trimester assessments.

Another way we helped our students was to incorporate math stations into our daily math routine.  I even did a math Daily 5.  Our math block was 70 minutes so we had enough time to do a warm-up, teach the focus lesson, and then give our students time in stations.

I spent 15 years teaching both first and second grade.  One of the biggest successes I had as a classroom teacher was when I implemented a workshop model in math.  Granted, it wasn't perfection right away.  Over a couple of years I figured out all the kinks and got it running like a smooth machine.  What did my students enjoy the most?  I'm so glad you asked!

I remember one particular class of first grade students being honestly surprised that playing all the fun games was math.  Still makes me smile... :)

What are the benefits of math games??
*They provide social interaction
*They are highly engaging
*Students practice cooperation and game-playing skills (turn taking, deciding who goes first, solving disagreements)
*Games can provide both concrete and abstract practice of a targeted skill or topic
*Students scaffold each other's learning
*Students learn from each other
*Games are fun!
*Easy to assess student understanding/mastery of the topic
*Frees teachers up to work with small groups or individual students

I am a firm believer in the power of math games and have created many that are for sale and for free in my TpT store.  Click on the pictures below to head on over and grab some math games.


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