Game Based Learning
Game Based Learning, also known as Gamification, is a great tool for boosting enthusiasm towards mathematics. The concept of gamification involves altering the classroom environment and traditional activities into a game-like format. It heightens creativity, collaboration, and play.
Existing gamification tools cover nearly all math topics and many are free for teachers to access and use.
Make sure to consult your school division’s math contact regarding any specific math software you may have access to through your division.
Examples of gamification include:
Classcraft takes video game elements and creates an online course created by you to improve student achievement and encourage participation
Minecraft: Education Edition is a game that promotes collaboration, problem solving and creativity in a virtual world. Minecraft aligns with many mathematical outcomes including but not limited to:
- Area and Volume
Prodigy is a free math game created to deepen student engagement and equip teachers with tools to inform their instruction. It has content from the major strands in mathematics.
Knowre is geared towards middle years and highschool students. An individual learning program identifies specific areas of weakness, and provides a game-like learning map.
Why use Game Based Learning?
- Positive effect on cognitive development
- Increased motivation and engagement
- A fun and stimulating way to embed content
- Increased interaction between student and teacher1
Searching for tools:
When seeking ideas to encourage engagement in your math classroom, try searching “gamification”
The Flipped Classroom is a type of blended learning where students are introduced to content at home and practise working through it at school. This is the reverse of the more common practice of introducing new content at school, then assigning homework and projects to be completed by the students independently at home.
How to begin a Flipped Classroom:
12 Rules for Flipping Your Classroom2
Most school divisions provide teachers with access to a Learning Management System (LMS) platform, such as Moodle, Blackboard, or even Google Classroom. Setting up a virtual headquarters for your class can provide students with an expedient means to access lesson content.
Even if used as only a daily diary, the virtual classroom can house content such as:
- Short videos with teacher lectures on important concepts,
- Demonstrations of how to use manipulatives,
- Downloadable PDF copies of any handouts given during class,
- Lists of the daily exercise questions for each lesson, as well as reminders of deadlines for assignments.
Keeping in mind that not all students have internet access (or time available during evenings), encouraging those that can to access the virtual classroom to preview and review content can be a benefit. A student who has already previewed the lecture video may have more readiness for the work to be done during the in-class session, or at least knows more specifically what questions to ask. And a student who was absent has an available means of catching up without burdening classroom minutes.
Consult with the IT department in your school division to inquire about Learning Management System (LMS) tools available for your use, and try to access PD supports to help get you started.
Mastery Learning hinges on the belief that knowledge is reducible and can be “chunked” into smaller steps, which enables scaffolding to support student success. The strategy first became popular as “Programmed Instruction” in the early 1960s and was quickly adopted by many trades. It still exists and enjoys prominence in education, industry, and business today.
With Mastery Learning, time is variable, and learning is fixed. The student must demonstrate their skill on preliminary steps of the scaffold before they are permitted access to intermediate or advanced steps. Re-demonstration is required, as many times as necessary, until the student can successfully meet the outcome expectations.
This may require teachers to do significant advance preparation, but once it has been built the teacher has more time available to facilitate student progress through each scaffolded step in their Mastery Learning journey.
The first step is to acquire or build an exam bank of questions for each topic or skill. Next, a quiz must be created that accesses questions randomly from that specific exam bank. Students then take the quiz as many times as needed in order to demonstrate mastery. Each time they take the quiz, they get a different set of questions to discourage mere memorization or cheating. The student is permitted to proceed to the next level only when they have demonstrated a specific standard of mastery.
While few stand-alone software options exist at this point that do this easily, any full-featured LMS tool (such as Moodle or Blackboard) will have the ability. Consult with your School Division’s digital learning team and ask if they might support you in creating this tool. The advantage of the LMS is that it will automate the quiz-generation process, and you can set follow-up instructional content to unlock automatically once the student has achieved a specific score. Thus, the marking is fully automated as well as the conditionally-sequenced delivery. This saves a great deal of teacher time which can be redeployed into providing students with targeted enrichment or remediation in a highly responsive manner.
Working manually, a teacher might try using the ExamView Test Creator software that came bundled with many of Saskatchewan’s prescribed textbook options.
A representative (and not exhaustive) list of some online options you might explore includes:
- classmarker.com – free for teachers but with a limit of 100 tests in total per month
- Easy Test Maker – allows free use with a 25 test limit. At any given time, a total of 25 test results can be stored.
- Mastery Quiz (Google Workspace Marketplace – Hank Seeley) – send randomized quizzes to students from a question bank you create in Forms. Students retake until mastery!
Search terms you might try for other options: online, quiz, exam bank, random.
Keep in mind that if the software tool does not permit the building of quizzes by adding random questions from an exam bank, then it is not set up to support Mastery Learning.
Note: Exercise caution (and consult with leadership) before using any web-based quiz-building tool that stores student information of any kind. Your School Division may have legitimate concerns about warehousing of student data, and may advise you to build your Mastery Learning quiz infrastructure within an approved LMS only.
Indigenous Ways of Knowing Connection to Games
⇒It is imperative that teachers understand Indigenous lesson plans must be considered holistically. That means that the Indigenous teachings and intentions that are part of the language and culture must be considered. Non-Indigenous teachers should consider consulting indigenous advisors to ensure that the integrity of the content is not unintentionally lost or compromised.
Indigenous Mathematizing: Games Lesson Plans
Picario: A Traditional Indigenous Game to Develop Spatial Reasoning, and Analytical and Critical Thinking Skills Grade 10 Mathematics Workplace and Apprenticeship
Stick Games and Theoretical/Experimental Probability Grade 6
1Rula Al-Azawi, Fatma Al-Faliti, and Mazin Al-Blushi (2016). “Educational Gamification Vs. Game Based Learning: Comparative Study”. International Journal of Innovation, Management and Technology, Vol. 7, No. 4. (pp. 133-134) (http://www.ijimt.org/vol7/659-CM932.pdf)
2Burns, M., n.d. 12 Rules For Flipping Your Classroom – eLearning Industry. [online] eLearning Industry. Available at: <https://elearningindustry.com/flipping-your-classroom-12-rules> [Accessed 6 August 2021].