I had some conceptual challenges this week, along with some application challenges about gamification of a high school math class. I think gamification of a course has some great benefits and provides an alternative to traditional methods in the class. I have been replying to other people’s blogs about the unique challenges that high school mathematics offers. I can understand that game elements can motivate students, but high school mathematics, especially abstract content like algebra can produce some great obstacles to overcome by students, and I’m not convinced that gamfication is a viable methodology that will assist students learn algebra.
I am convinced that growth mindset is a more viable method to help students learn math, and more specifically the ability to accept failure, and just try again, and again, and again, til they get it right. I read an article by Katrina Schwartz that stated that when people fail, or get something wrong, their brain starts firing synapses. It begins when you make a mistake, your brain fires. If you recognize your mistake and find alternatives, your brain fires. When you get it right, your brain fires. It is helpful to make mistakes!
The other take-a-way from Katrina’s article is that it takes more time to solve problems for professional mathematicians than I thought. I don’t know why we expect students to solve problems quickly, especially during assessments. We need to allow them time. In fact, math should be learned at a personal pace, not at a synchronous pace, like we traditionally teach math.
I did like some of the review games that Matera described in his text. I think it is a good deterrent to play these sort of games after learning content. I will try to play some of these games in the future with my math class.
Schwartz, Katrina. (2015). ‘Not a Math Person’: How to Remove Obstacles to Learning Math. KQED News. http://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2015/11/30/not-a-math-person-how-to-remove-obstacles-to-learning-math/