KTM User Pages
11 Oct 2005 - 15:40
While I'm not keen on number bond flashcards, this is a variant on the number bond idea that I do like:
A domino activity using numicon plates rather than numbers. Can be used in a variety of ways i.e. as normal matching dominoes, two plates that make 5 to develop number bonds.I'm thinking these could be terrific for Andrew, who has to learn math visually thus far, and who needs alternative visual representations so he doesn't get fixated on the felt-marker dot sheets he's been doing. But I like these for any child. They're cool. You can find these at a U.K. web site called Teaching Ideas, which has 4 pages of "numeracy" activities that look worth exploring.
keywords: travel game travel flashcard game dominoes
Curricular Game Playing
Curricular Game Playing, part 2
number bonds vs. 4-fact families
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I've tried many different methods for games. The main thing that I have noticed is that the weakest students tend to get the least practice with all these ideas. (For example, in the travel game, the strongest students answer the most questions and get the most practice.) Additionally, the weakest students get embarrassed. So now, all my games are take turns. Even the weakest students get the same amount of practice. Additionally, I tend to pair weakness with weakness so that they both get pracitice in areas that need it. I may have three different games going on working on different weaknesses for different students. -- AnneDwyer - 10 Oct 2005
I've got to get BOTH of your comments up front -- do you remember which thread you put your last comment on was?? I taught writing & film studies years ago, and I always called on people. I think that's essential. Everyone has to be 'on the alert' that they're going to get chosen by the teacher. -- CatherineJohnson - 10 Oct 2005
We called that math game "Around the World." I doubt it would be allowed these days, as it's competitive and pits two children against each other. My classmates and I, however, loved it in 3rd and 4th grade and actually enjoyed practicing with flash cards outside of class in order to get faster. -- AndyJoy - 10 Oct 2005
We also played a flash card game that gave every child an equal number of questions, and involved team competition rather than individual only. “Flash Card Football” Draw a simple line drawing of a horizontal football field with end zones and goal posts on the board. Adjust the number of lines to suit your class (3-5 on each half is a good number). Place a paper cutout of a football with rolled tape on the back on the center line. Divide the class into two UNEVEN teams. Have them stand in two lines along the sides of the room. Have one pair at a time (1 from each team) come to the front of the room and attempt to answer a flash card question. The winning child gets to move the football 1 line towards his/her team’s end zone. When one team scores a touchdown, record it and start again at center. The teams are uneven so that the same children aren’t against each other every time. You can even make up team names to put in the end zones. We loved this game—boys and girls alike. You can bet it’s one of the few times we cheering aloud for division facts! -- AndyJoy - 10 Oct 2005
At my son's school, the only approach to math practice seems to be group games, where only a few do the thinking at a time. I don't think group games are an effective use of precious class time. Or, they send notes home that tell parents to practice with their child. This is one of my pet peeves. They continue with their fuzzy, time-wasting constructivist stuff at school, but make the parents do the dirty work. They know it's important, but they won't do it themselves. When I was growing up, I remember breaking up into many groups of two with flash cards. I thought flash cards were fun. It bothers me that modern education just can't bring itself to dive right in and get to work. Kids are getting the message that it's OK to expect that everything will be fun and games. I read someplace that educators believe that when the child is ready, he/she will learn the material without effort. If the material is difficult for them, then they are not developmentally ready for it. I call this institutionalized low expectations. It is also a very bad message to send to children. I am not against games as a supplement. I just get very suspicious when they are used as a main vehicle for supplementing a poor curriculum. When comments are raised, teachers will tell parents that they supplement with work on skills. What they might be referring to are group games which are more about fun than learning. I have said before that they supplement Everyday Math at my son's school, but it appears that it is up to the teachers. Last year, my son's teacher had them do timed worksheets. This year, it's group games. It's obvious which is more effective. -- SteveH - 10 Oct 2005
Just like everyone else, I believe that you need at least three ways to teach something. That includes memorizing basic facts. Flash cards did not work for my daughter. I flashed and flashed and flashed, but she did not memorize. I tried mad minute by itself, but she didn't get enough practice to progress. Now we are using (and it's working) the good, old fashioned Catholic school method: reciting the facts out loud. (If anyone every saw the movie "A Christmas Story", there is a scene where they recite the most missed multiplication problems on the last test.) Games are good at the lower elementary level or anytime students need to memorize the basic facts. They need lots of practice in many different ways. You have to make sure that the kids get practice though. If you have a game with teams, then in one 20 minute game each student gets a limited amount of practice. I like one on one games where I can change the rules depending on where the student is and what kind of practice they need. One set of students may be practicing subtraction while another set is practicing division. But they are playing the same game at the same time so no one feels like they're not getting it. Also, I can go and monitor individual games to see how the students are doing. Or I can set myself up as a partner and make them do all the practice!! -- AnneDwyer - 10 Oct 2005
From the Wit and Wisdom page of a well-written website that I suspect you've all read: "They don't understand. When they make math fun, it's MORE BORING." Christopher said exactly what I think. Sure, if you're the one in the spotlight because you're doing well in the game, then it's great fun showing off. But what if you're the one who can't dribble the metaphorical basketball? Now, let me say that I have no problem with competitions in school, but they're motivational, not instructional. Like any other motivational tool, they will work with some and not with others, and they need to come out of your Motivation time budget, not out of your Instruction time budget. To get back to Christopher's point, most "instructional games" really aren't much fun, when viewed purely as games. If they also don't instruct very well, I think the case for spending time on them is not well made. OTOH, using games that are interesting as games and require facility with some important skill can be useful as a (relatively rare) motivator, particularly if you can show how that skill is useful to winning the game. But the game must be one that the students would play even if not directed by a teacher. An aside: I think this is much of what is wrong with PE in elementary and secondary schools. They devolve to game playing without teaching the skills necessary to do well in the games. The game is seen as the end, rather than the development of coordination and conditioning. -- DougSundseth - 10 Oct 2005
Doug When I first did fast fact sheets in my Singapore Math class I thought it was going to be bad for the kids who were slow (and a couple of them were VERY slow). For some reason.....it turned out not to be. I don't think I have a good sense of what kind of competition becomes upsetting & what kind works & wakes kids up & spurs them on. (Actually, I know I don't have a good sense of this.) The other thing is that everyone had his own sheet, where he recorded his times. The kids got faster every single week, without fail, and without practice in between (weird). So they were all experiencing a kind of personal best each week. -- CatherineJohnson - 10 Oct 2005
I have no idea whether teachers should or should not be using math games.....they seem OK to me, but what do I know? However, I will defend spelling bees TO THE DEATH! -- CatherineJohnson - 10 Oct 2005
Christopher's social studies class is going to have a geography bee next week, and he can't wait. -- CatherineJohnson - 10 Oct 2005
That's pretty rich, playing games at school and telling THE PARENTS to do the drill. Given all the afterschooling I'm doing around here, I deserve a rebate. -- CatherineJohnson - 10 Oct 2005
Anne Flash cards did not work for my daughter. I flashed and flashed and flashed, but she did not memorize. FLASH CARDS WERE A MISERABLE FAILURE FOR US, TOO. Now we are using (and it's working) the good, old fashioned Catholic school method: reciting the facts out loud. How does that go? Is it like a 'call and response'? I've seen CHRISTMAS STORY, but don't remember the scene. I'm a big believer in 'call and response.' NOBODY does it now. They weren't even doing it when I was a kid. But they should. -- CatherineJohnson - 10 Oct 2005
I saw a study on a call-and-response class once. The kids learned huge amounts. Once the study was done, the teacher dropped it. -- CatherineJohnson - 10 Oct 2005
Hmm, I think putting a competition wrapper on practice is probably valuable for at least some kids, and probably not especially detrimental to the rest. For example, scoring mad-minute exercises competitively (both between students and historically for a single student) could be effective. I know it worked for me when I was in 5th grade, but there's no real pretence that it's intended to be fun. For that matter, the process of a spelling or geography bee isn't much fun, though the anticipation and aftermath can be. In this, I see a similarity with (say) rock climbing. The process of rock climbing is extraordinarily tiring, and occasionally deeply frightening. It's not the climbing that's enjoyable, but the having climbed. I suspect it is precisely the difficulty and concreteness that makes the effort, pain, and fear worthwhile. When you finish, you know both that you have done something and what you have done, and you can prove it to others. (On Geography: I presume that you know about this site's geography games? I think they're a blast.) -- DougSundseth - 10 Oct 2005
The fast fact worksheets probably aren't fun, but the kids had a lot of fun getting riled up about who was first, who was second, etc. So, I'd say that for just about all of them, actually doing the sheets as a class activity with a competitive element was fun. (I didn't tell them to compete with each other, but to do them in under 5 minutes.) -- CatherineJohnson - 10 Oct 2005
oh my gosh, Doug I've got to see if I can dig up my Margaret Thatcher quotes about Why We Do Hard Things -- CatherineJohnson - 10 Oct 2005
I don't want to get existential, but I think fun is very subjective. There may be all kinds of environmental effects at work that have trained them to be that way, but I think bright kids just love to show how smart they are. Whenever we have some dead time, my daughters ask me to quiz them on world capitals, or spelling, or math. Now, that may be because they know that I value such "brainy" pursuits, and they are trying to please me. Still, it is undeniably FUN for them. Just this evening, it was parents night at my older daughter's choir rehearsal, so I got to observe their practice. This is not a school choir; it draws young singers from miles around. There are auditions to join, etc. Her particular subset of the choir probably has ages ranging from eight to eleven. My impression is that these are bright, motivated kids, probably two standard deviations up in IQ. Anyway, the instructor keeps up a fun banter with the choristers throughout the 75-minute rehearsal. One selection was named something like "Infant Joy." She asked if everyone knew what those words meant, and asked for other titles that would mean the same thing. 80% of the kids put their hands up. After about 4 synonyms had been suggested, there were still many hands up. At that point, two consecutive girls had absolutely nothing to say when called upon. To me, this indicates that these kids wanted to be called upon; they wanted to show how smart they are; they wanted to impress their instructor; that's their idea of FUN. I'm guessing that before they happened to be called upon, somebody else had already suggested the words they had in mind, but they were so motivated to show their stuff that they kind of failed to grasp that fact until they were called upon. My guess is that the opposite effect works on kids who are not so bright. They probably find oral quizzing to be no fun at all if it highlights their inferiority. This is where the self-esteem thing starts to come into it. I know that many people consider windsurfing to be fun. I think the longest day of my life was the one where I signed up for an all-day windsurfing lesson. No fun for a clumsy guy like me. -- DanK - 11 Oct 2005
The method I use is not call and response. It is just straight forward saying the problem out loud. For example, when we work on subtraction, we say together, "9-4 is 5, 8-4 is 4" etc all the way down the line. When we wanted our kids to learn the ABC's, we sang it to them (in order) until they could sing it themselves. I have a friend who went to school in Japan and she says that the entire country used the same sing song version of the multiplication tables. So, even though the evidence is anectodal, I believe it is an effective way to memorize your basic math facts. -- AnneDwyer - 11 Oct 2005
"The method I use is not call and response. It is just straight forward saying the problem out loud." After reflection, I think it's not just the repetition of a single fact, but the repetition of a whole series in a consistent order, and probably with a consistent rhythm, that helps to bind the individual facts in long-term memory. That's the way I learned irregular verbs in German. At the beginning of every class, my German teacher would repeat the same verbs in the same order, and we would all chant along with her. I can still remember not just the verb forms, but the order in which we chanted them. I've been consciously saying addition facts aloud with my son, but only sporadically; you've convinced me to change that. Thank you. -- DougSundseth - 11 Oct 2005