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classroom structure factors games play projects reflection technology

Report on a Math Tournament

**This post contains the materials and advice you’ll need to run a distanced math tournament with your district, division, school, province, state, classroom, family, coworkers, neighbours, etc., etc., etc.**

Honestly, the more math love, the better! (IMHO)

In mid-October, I designed a math provincial math tournament open to all middle school teachers in my home province of Saskatchewan, Canada. After writing up a blog post that served as a formal invitation, the tournament (which I affectionately called the Saskatchewan Mathematics Invitational Tournament–or #SMIT2020 for short) has been running for just over a month with over 80 classrooms from across the province playing Federico Chialvo’s delightful game MULTI. (see here for more information).

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classroom structure factors games numerical flexibility play technology

A Math Tournament

**Update: Nov 23, 2020: Follow along on Twitter with some of the thinking at the hashtag #SMIT2020

COVID has created a global (and now chronic) pressure on all teachers in all classrooms, and the shifting, local realities have made teacher collaboration a precious commodity. It’s hard enough to find time to confer with colleagues under the best of situations, and now our major professional muster points are not currently viable–adding further value to any sense of connection that can be generated.

Bummer, right?

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area games geometry investigation pattern reflection scale

Upscale Pattern Blocks

[Updated April 9th, 2020]

First off, I hope you are well. This post represents a portion of my attempt to remain “well enough” in the midst of tremendous uncertainty. Most of my time is spent talking about the teaching and learning of mathematics, something that seems to have ground to a necessary halt in recent days. Given our collective circumstance, the time feels as good as ever to talk about a little project I’ve been working on, and ask for a smidge of help.

The Blocks

Recent access to a laser cutter and a kindergartener got me wondering. I began to play with a few possibilities. One of the fun things that fell out was a set of scaled pattern blocks I’m calling, “Upscale Pattern Blocks”. Essentially, they are pattern blocks scaled in three different sizes. The sizes interacted in some very interesting ways, and after some test cutting and multiple trips to the craft supply store, I ended up with a really fun result.

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games numerical flexibility primes

Prime Climb Puzzles

Let it be known that I am not a huge fan of math board games. That being established, I have tried on multiple occasions to create one that I like because the undeniable engagement factor is there. One of two things always seems to happen to my attempts:

  • The game does nothing to change how students interact with the mathematics. Rather, it divulges into an attempt to get students to complete drills in order to win points of some type. Here, the math and the game exist as ostensibly separate entities. 
  • The game mechanism does not support flexible mathematics without a plethora of complicated rules. In an attempt to ensure that the first problem does not occur, the game soon balloons out of control until the simplistic spirit of gamification is lost. 
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equations estimation games pattern reflection stations tasks

TDC Math Fair 2016: A Summary

Background:
On June 15th, my Grade 9 class and I hosted our second annual math fair. What started out as a small idea has grown into a capstone event of their semester. This year, we had 330 elementary school students visit our building to take part in the fair’s activities. Several people (following the hashtag #TDCMathFair2016) commented that they would like to do similar things with their student transitions. This post details the rationale behind the event, how we structured it, what stations we had, and feedback/advice from our exploits.

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games numeracy order of operations

(Min + Max) imize: A Classroom Game for Basic Facts

**this post was elaborated on in the May 2016 issue of The Variable from the SMTS.

**this game is part of a larger collection of classroom games entitled, 16 Boxes: Ten Numeracy Routines for the Classroom available (for free) at this link.

This is a game that was adapted from a colleague in my department. He can’t quite remember where it came from, but knows there was some influence from his undergraduate days. Nonetheless, he reinvented it to play with his Grade 9s, and this post represents yet another reinvention.

The game has a simple mechanism (dice rolling), and endless extensions to elaborate on and play with. These are both keys to a great classroom game (for me anyway). 
(Min + Max) imize practices basic operations within the framework of larger, conceptual decision making. While I rarely bring up the probability of the dice rolling, it is obvious that students are making decisions based on the chances of certain rolls being obtained. The idea is to practice basic skills and order of operations in a way that allows students to be active, numerate decision makers. 
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games integers

Limbo: An Integers Game

Rationale: Create a game that embeds the skills of adding and subtracting integers into a conceptual decision making structure.

Objective: Insert a set of integers into a 4-by-4 grid so that the sums of the rows and columns is a minimum. 

Game Set-up:
All the students need is the game board and the list of sixteen numbers.

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factors fractions games investigation logic tasks

Fraction War Task

A while ago I wrote a post on embedding atomic skills into tasks so that the basic skills are developed and used as tools of mathematics rather than the ultimate goal of mathematics. I try to develop tasks that follow this framework. I want the student to choose a pathway of thought that enables them to use basic skills, but doesn’t focus entirely on them.

Recently, I was reading Young Children Reinvent Arithmetic: Implications of Piaget’s Theory by Constance Kamii and came across one of her games that she plays with first graders in her game-driven curriculum.

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factors games numeracy primes tasks

The Guess Who Conundrum

Every so often, an idea comes out of left field. I woke up with this on my mind–must have been a dream.
Back in the day, my family had a dilapidated copy of the game “Guess Who?” My siblings and I would take turns playing this game of deduction. You essentially narrowed a search for an opponent’s person by picking out characteristics of their appearance.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/unloveable/2398625902/
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games tasks

Building the Proper Ecology

The beginning of semester poses many challenges–new classes to teach, names to learn, and class sizes to manage. No challenge is greater than building the correct atmosphere in the classroom while balancing the students’ preconceived notions about you, your class, and mathematics. (Hopefully not all three impressions are poor).

Students talk. They let their friends know how your class runs. This is all the more reason to set the proper atmosphere, because a poor semester can follow you like a plague for semesters to come. I would like to propose that there is more to an effective class than the atmosphere. (This is a duh moment). In fact, as teachers we need to embrace a terminology shift.