This post relates to #MTBoS assignment four. For this mission I decided to listen to one of the Global Math Department‘s webinars. I came across GMD about a year ago and look back occasionally at the webinars that I miss. While reviewing I found the math games webinar back in January of last year, so that’s the one I picked for this mission. Plus, I’ve always enjoyed using math games (1,2,3) to review and believe that I can always improve in this area of my practice.

Math games have always been a part of my own teaching practice, but I want to learn how to use them more effectively. I’m fortunate to have a curriculum that highlights the use of math games in/out of the classroom. I use math games with my classes approximately once per week and primarily use them during math stations. Most of the math games that I use deal with dice, cards, and/or some type of online component. For me, the reason for using the games goes back to the concept of learning and engagement. I believe engagement can be heightened with the appropriate use of a math game. Math games also allow opportunities to develop skills related to critical thinking and problem solving. Also, guided math has played a role in how I use math games in the classroom. With a push for guided math at the elementary level, students that are not immediately with an instructor need to be able to engaged in mathematical thinking, self-govern themselves, and use their time wisely. Math games at a particular math station provide an opportunity to do just that.

Understanding what makes a good math game is important. Ensuring that the students are engaged is key. Students that drift their attention in and out of the game can cause issues; especially if the teacher isn’t directly at that particular math station. As I watched the webinar, I began to see affirmation and areas where I need to start thinking more critically about how math games are used.

A few takeaways/questions from this webinar include:

- Always start with the objective
- Does the math actually interrupt the game/fun?
- Is the math action the same as the game action?
- Time limits can encourage math anxiety
- Games can be used to introduce concepts, not just for review
- Games can encourage math exploration
- Inferencing, prediction, critical thinking and logic reasoning can all be part of the game
- Rote mathematics doesn’t have to be the emphasis of game
- Math games can reinforce gamification thinking
- Keep in mind the game design process

How do you use math games in the classroom?