This Week’s Newsletter is a Little Gamey

This Week's Newsletter is a Little Gamey

Edited By Brian Bushart @bstockus

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Online Professional Development Sessions

Reducing Status to Improve Collaboration
Presented by Brette Woessner (@ReadySetBrette)

Collaboration is a powerful tool to help students build knowledge together and deepen their understanding of math practice and content standards. But this collaboration is not innate for many students who enter our classrooms. Collaboration must be explicitly and purposefully taught, scaffolded, and reinforced. Not only that, but we must be aware of and strategically combat status issues in our classrooms that stand in the way of equitable student learning. Let’s chat practical ideas about norms, task design, and assessment strategies that will position all of our students to grow as math learners together!

To join the meeting when it starts at 9pm Eastern (or RSVP if it’s before 9pm), click here.

Last week at Global Math Tina Cardone and Dylan Kane gave us a taste of the PCMI experience prior to the January 15 deadline. 
Click here to watch the recording.

Care for a Game?

Criteria for Good Games and Apps

This week, one particular post kept flying across my Twitter and Facebook feeds, and I didn’t pay much attention other than to vaguely wonder what a “fact-based app” was. On Friday, someone who is not even a teacher shared it with me, and I finally woke up and paid attention. It was this piece by Tracy Johnston Zager (@tracyzager ): “My Criteria for Fact-Based Apps”.  A fact-based app is typically marketed as fun and engaging games or activities for students to practice math skills at their own pace. I’ve had some experience with some of these apps, and after reading Tracy’s post, I realized what it was that was bothering me about a lot of them. Most of them use the math as a dangling carrot. There is a distinct border between the math and the fun.

Tracy lists her three baseline, non-negotiable criteria for recommending such an app: that there be no time constraint, that there be a conceptual basis for the operations, and that mistakes must be handled productively. Sounds kind of like a good classroom!

Tracy names a few apps that do it well, as well as some that don’t. I’ve always loved Explorelearning’s gizmos, and although they aren’t listed in the post, (which Tracy points out is not exhaustive), I think they would meet the criteria. She also directs readers to (where I’ve been spending a lot of my time lately), for examples of engaging activities in which the math is indistinguishable from the fun (for example, marbleslides). I couldn’t agree more.

Written by Audrey McLaren (@a_mcsquared)

Number Grid Tic-Tac-Toe

Speaking of math games, Joe Schwartz posts an excellent game that he developed for his second grade students: Number Grid Tic-Tac-Toe. In the game, students try to get 4 squares in a row. All they have to do is write in the correct number to take the space! It’s a wonderful way to build fluency with the 100 grid while also giving kids a chance to think strategically about winning the game! The math is embedded deeply in the game, and kids may notice all sorts of patterns within the board that they wouldn’t otherwise notice.

Joe posts about some extensions and wrinkles that you can add to make the game more challenging. I don’t know what Tracy Zager thinks of this math game, but I have a pretty good guess…

Written by Kent Haines (@MrAKHaines)

Five By Five

Recently, I came across Sara VanDerWerf’s (@saravdwerf) post about a game she has been keeping secret for 24 years! I’m not sure why she has chosen now to break her silence, but what’s done is done…unless you work in her district. In which case she is very clear that you are not allowed to use the game if you teach at a school that feeds into hers. (She’s so passionate about it, I felt obligated to share that caveat.)

Sara’s class plays this game only *one* day per school year, the day before winter break. This might give the impression that this is a throwaway game, but in fact there’s some interesting strategy to it. So much so that one reader went so far as to design an Excel spreadsheet to find out how to optimize the score. You can find a link to that spreadsheet in the comments on her post along with a few other reader-recommended games.

Written by Brian Bushart (@bstockus)

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