Friday, March 15, 2013

Games + Global + Math = Excited Students!


My school just had the wonderful opportunity to participate in World Maths Day. World Maths Day is part of the World Education Games which is "an annual global online challenge to get all students (4-18 years of age) excited about learning, and to give the top students in all schools an opportunity to see how they measure up against the best in the world."

Basically, for free, you can enroll your students at http://www.worldeducationgames.com/. Then the fun begins. Students log on and play one minute games with other students in their age group from around the world.

As students play, they see an avatar and the name of the country of the student they are playing. As students answer questions correctly, a bar moves across the screen showing their success. Students can also watch as their competitor's bar moves across the screen. Each game is only a minute so students stay motivated as they try to keep up with their competitors.

After one day of play, I got the following email from a math teacher:

OH MY GOODNESS! The kids are SO hyped about World Math Games!

Yesterday another teacher said to me.

If we could play World Maths Games everyday, my kids would know their math facts perfectly.

When I went into a classroom to watch students play during the live event (which runs from March 5th to March 6th), it didn't look (or sound) like a typical math class. Kids were partially standing at their computers, talking excitedly across the room, and were deeply focused on achievement. I have written before about the power of games to engage students (see Videos Games Could Save Schools and Running to Get to Math Class) and these games were no different.

While I had been attracted to the World Maths Game for its potential for students to make global connections, I was fascinated by the different ways students were engaged with the games. One student really want to compete against her peers. She would call out "One, two, three" and students would all start a game together. They loved competing against the other students in the room. Others were intrigued by where other students were from. I heard many students commenting on the countries of their opponents and occasionally a student would just call out the name of a country. Other students really wanted to know how they measured up to students around the world and continually check the Hall of Fame board set up in the game.

Despite a snow day on the second day of the event, World Maths Day was a huge success for our school. Over 52,000 correct math questions were answered, over 400 students participated, and hundreds of students had fun doing math. I look forward to expanding our involvement in the games next year, including fundraising for the UNICEF School-in-a-box program. Until then I will continue to look for opportunties for students where they:
  • experience success
  • have fun while learning
  • make global connections

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