Active Learning and Elephants.
Using math games for active learning
is like trying to chain an elephant. Let me put this is perspective. You can't chain an adult elephant because they are simply too powerful. They would simply bust the chain with a single foot movement.
You must start when elephants are small.
A small chain is placed around the foot of a baby elephant and, like difficult students, they struggle and fight the chain.
They soon learn they can not bust through the chain and resign to the fact that the chain won't hurt them. Mahouts love their elephants
and chains keep their elephants safe.
Using math games for successful active learning when relief teaching, is a little like chaining elephants.
You take little steps but make allowance for attempt at breaking the chain.
When you first use math games the kids might struggle.
Active learning is certainly active but usually not much learning occurs at the start.
The difficult kids, especially, will try to circumvent the game and not participate in the learning.
It won't be active learning to them.
Like little elephants, they will fight the learning process but have heaps of fun with the games.
You may even question why you chose it in the first place. But it changes quickly.
So why choose active learning math games?
Elephants are eminently suited to working in their environment. Using math games for active learning is the same.
In the appropriate relief teaching environment, they are great tools, especially for difficult students.
Math games are the source of active learning because kids feel, and they actually are, in control.
How their math learning evolves depends on the success of the math game. So how do you make math games successful when relief teaching?
Make Active Learning Work.
1. Make the learning open-ended.
There needs to be a correct answer but vary the learning processes by which students get there. For example in 41 Math Games, the student can vary the operations and, using the brackets, vary the groupings by which they arrive at the answer.
2. Provide controls that don't stifle active learning.
There are a number of options that make learning exciting. If there is a way to beat the system, kids will find it. Keep the rules of the math games simple enough to provide a structure but flexible enough to provide a challenge. For example , in 41 Card Gamesstudents are given a template, but these are completed by using the luck of the draw of the cards and the math choices made during the game.
3. Have a winner.
Kids will often forget the purpose of the game is to explore math learning. They will attempt to beat their opponent to a pulp to the Rocky Theme. Have a winner so that there is a purpose to the game.
4. Make the processes easy but the mastery difficult.
A teacher needs a game that they can use a couple of times at least. Effective math games will have a skill that is easy to use but take a while to master. Try 41 Math Gamesand mastery will take quite a few games. There are several variations for each game so skills learnt in one game can be applied to another.
5. Use active learning math games that suit all learners.
Even difficult students love math games. They love the competition and also the less intrusive nature of the learning. This is a bonus for relief teaching. Reluctant learners are supported by the shared active learning of the game especially those included in 41 Math Games
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