Week 6: How are games providing new opportunities for differentiation in the classroom?

Digital games have been around for decades, and it seems that their use has been studied in an educational environment with some success.  Serious games, which are defined to be fun, entertaining, and educational, have been studied and have been linked to increased user motivation, and are able to teach factual information. (Bellotti et al., 2013)  In fact, in another study “results indicated that digital games were associated with a 0.33 standard deviation improvement relative to nongame comparison conditions.” (Clark et al., 2016)

With these types of results, it’s no wonder that teachers are trying to find ways to incorporate digital games in their class.  In my 20+ years of teaching high school math, it has been a goal of mine to increase student motivation and provide differentiation.  One online resource that I have known for some time is Coolmath-games.com.  I came across this website via search engine some time ago, and they have a wide variety of games that incorporate strategy, skill, numbers, logic, and puzzles.  A sister website is Coolmath.com, which includes a variety of lessons and games that help students with Pre-Algebra, Algebra, and Pre-Calculus content.  These can be accessed to provide differentiation to students that need remedial help, or provide challenges.

Another online resource available is Get the Math, which is a website dedicated to providing teachers and students real-world applications of Algebra 1.  They provide video explanations and interactive challenges that can be applied to areas of music, fashion, video games, restaurants, basketball, and special effects. (2017)  The music section provided an explanation of using math to create a hip-hop beats by combining different tracks with differing beats per minute by analyzing and modifying them to have the same beat.  It was a great way to explain the idea of rates/ratios, and patterns.  The video game section described how you would program an object to maneuver in a coordinate field, and not hit obstacles.  Students would need to know how to write equations of lines and provide coordinates of safe passage.

Two more online resources that I have found to help with differentiation with games are Math Playground, and Math Games.  Both sites provide content for grades K-8 as well as some Pre-Algebra, and standards are cross-referenced for those that want information about how these games use math.

I do believe that these math games would allow students to be more engaged and motivated to learn and apply math, and also provide differentiation.  The only concern a teacher would have is to make sure there is 1:1 for your class.  If there is not enough technology to be used at the same time, teachers can create groups or stations and rotate them to allow everyone access.  There are a variety of tactile, hands-on games that can be used to learn math too.

(Click here to view video!)


Bellotti, Francesco; Kapralos, Bill; Lee, Kiju; Moreno-Ger, Pablo; Berta, Riccardo. (2013). Assessment in and of Serious Games: An Overview. Hindawi Publishing Corporation, Advances in Human-Computer Interaction, Volume 2013, Article ID 136864

Clark, Douglas B.; Tanner-Smith, Emily E.; Killingsworth, Stephen S. (2015). Digital Games, Design, and Learning: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Review of Educational Research, March 2016, Vol. 86, No. 1

CoolMath. (2017). [website]. Retrieved from http://www.coolmath.com/

CoolMath-Games. (2017) [website]. Retrieved from http://www.coolmath-games.com/

Get the Math. (2017). [website]. Retrieved from http://www.thirteen.org/get-the-math/teachers/overview-of-the-lessons/26/

Math Playground. (2017). [website]. Retrieved from http://www.mathplayground.com/games.html

Math Games. (2017). [website] Retrieved from https://www.mathgames.com/



5 thoughts on “Week 6: How are games providing new opportunities for differentiation in the classroom?

  1. I enjoyed your video about the websites. I think it might be fun to do the Get the Math website on the smart board with the whole class. How do you use cool math games in the classroom ? I have struggled with this one. Do you let you students do any games they want to or do you choose what they can do? Are there any games that you don’t think are as educational. Some of my students seemed to find the least educational game and then not do what it is asking. So, I stopped using it, but I am open to bringing it back. Any suggestions?


    • I think there is a lot a “latitude” in the definition of math for the games in cool-mathgames.com. They do involve logic, skill, strategy, and puzzles, but not necessarily “math”. I think they offer some good practice in certain skills though, and that, in itself, is important!


  2. I enjoyed looking at all the resources of math games that you have put together. The website Coolmath-games.com has lots of games that I can see my students interested in but I worry about how to connect the games to what is being learned in class. I wish there was a dropdown tab that has the different types of games and how it connects to math such as ratios, angles, equations, functions, etc. I do see they have logic and numbers as an option but this is a huge topic. I don’t mind too much looking at the different types of games but it would be nice if they have this road map of how to add in the classroom a bit more. I ended up playing Frank n’ Slime for about 20 minutes trying to figure out what is going on. This is a logic game and it is perfect for failing and trying again. It provides players to problem solve by trying new things. Very cool! Thank you for the resource.


    • I think playing games will develop that mindset we want students to have about not giving up and it’s okay to fail. I just got done watching the classic “Rocky Balboa” movie. One scene Rocky tells his son that life is hard, and it’s not how hard you get hit, but it’s if you can get up after getting beat down! (well something like that) Too often we want the easy road, the least resistance, and the quick way to the top (what ever that is). We need to focus instead, on developing that growth mindset. I also watched “Eddie, the Eagle” . Quite inspirational, I thought. I liked the scene where the main character Eddie is met by the Olympic gold medalist of the 70m ski jump event in an elevator. You see, Eddie came in last place in the same event, but Eddie knew he didn’t do the best he could.(he has jumped farther before) Well the gold medalist shared with Eddie that yeah, he, himself got gold, but he didn’t do his best either, and that bothered him. They shared the same disappointment, and so they were very similar in attitudes. It’s all about growth. Even the best can do better! And at the same time, if the best is failure, then at least you tried!


  3. I use those same math game resources for my students. I’m always surprised when I give them some free-time to choose any game they like, which ones they choose. Have you tried Hooda Math? It may be more geared for lower grades than what you’re looking for, but worth a try if you’re looking for something new.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s