## Saturday, August 8, 2009

### Welcome to the Mathwire Blog: New Games

Welcome to the new Mathwire Blog. Each post will feature the latest addition to the Mathwire site , a new twist on a Mathwire classic activity or an internet resource that supports elementary math learning. The Mathwire site features classroom-ready, Standards-based math activities for elementary teachers and students.

Check back often as new activities are featured on the site as well as this blog. Please let us know if you try the activity in your classroom and how you might have adapted it to best meet the varied needs of learners in your class.

New Games on Mathwire
The beginning of the new school year is always a great time to brush up on basic facts mastery. Be sure to check out the new Three Strikes And You're Out Game which provides practice in addition or subtraction facts. You can download the directions, game board and game pieces in PDF format on Mathwire.

While you're there, check out the new M&M Probability Game Pieces which were created to go with the M&M Probability Game, at the request of some Mathwire.com users. You'll find links for the game directions, recording sheets, and game pieces. There are also pictures of the game being played so that you can see how to create the sentence strip game board complete with the M&M game pieces. Check out these resources and download the PDF files on Mathwire.

Math games are a great way to provide basic facts practice. Students feel that they are playing, but they're really practicing their basic facts over and over, trying to make the best move to win the game. It's a win-win!

1. This is terrific! I'm looking forward to all the ideas other math teachers will contribute to the site.

2. I enjoyed reading this! I'm looking forward to new posts! Martine :)

3. What are people using as a tool for progress monitoring? Martine (1-5th grade)

4. I find math games are a good way to reinforce math facts but I find that I don't have time to play them (except for the "smart" students who really don't need reinforcement) because we are always trying to first be able to do the math. And when it comes time to where we are able to "play" the math game we need to move on to the next topic. What would you do in this situation?

5. Some teachers include a regular "game day" every week or every other week during which students cycle through 4-5 stations, depending on the length of time. Students might play a game to practice basic facts, solve an open-ended problem, meet with the teacher for guided practice or enrichment, etc.

Not every game is worthy of math time, but those that are provide additional practice for students who need to develop proficiency in math facts, factors, etc. Students eagerly play the game rather than complete worksheets. Many of these games also include a strategy element so that students acquire more points for selecting the best option( see the blog post on the Contig game as a good example of this). These games prompt students to try and rehearse many options in search of the best, providing more motivated practice than worksheets.

Another strength of these games is the ability to differentiate games to accommodate different learning levels within the classroom. The same game can be modified for basic skills learners and enriched to challenge more capable students. The materials are the same, and students practice independently, leaving the teacher free to meet with small groups of students for remediation or enrichment.

It sounds daunting at first, but I have personally seen this work in K-4 classrooms. Teachers love it as this weekly time enables them to provide additional instruction, as needed, to students. Set up a stations chart, group students, and set the timer. Once or twice through the process and students are on their own. Try it -- you'll be amazed at how effective the practice is!

As for "moving on" to the next topic, this regular game day provides the extra practice some students need to acquire the skills or master basic facts. It's truly an effective differentiation tool, if properly planned. Some grade level teams plan together, including options for basic skills, regular, and gifted students to properly challenge students at their identified levels.