Competition, Motivation, Self Worth

In the beginning i’d have different games for us to play that supported our math skills, but as time went on we’ve become more and more obsessed with the game make 10. it’s a simple game I played with my first graders. We use a stack of “ten grid” cards. Each card has a number on it, and in the middle there is a grid of 10 boxes- five on each side. the number of dots in the grid matches the number on the card. To play make ten each person takes a turn flipping a card over. When you see that you can add the numbers up to make ten (6 + 2+ 2) you take them. The winner is the one with the most cards. The great thing about this game with the ten-grid cards is that they are able to use the visual of the ten-grid to manipulate the numbers in different ways. This was hugely popular in first grade and I started using it in the beginning of this year as a way to work on getting our 10 facts quickly.

via Organized Chaos: competition, motivation, & self worth.

I know almost nothing about the author of Organized Chaos, but I’m finding that it’s one of my favorite blogs.  In this article, she tells the story of a group of students pulled out of regular classes for mathematics remediation.  They play a game called Make-10, where the goal is to gather a group of cards whose sum is 10.  Only, as she explains in the rest of the article, eventually the game grows to be too easy for them; so they move to Make-11, and Make-12, and higher.  Then they add in subtraction as a tool, and then multiplication.  They haven’t gone on to division yet, from the sound of it.  I imagine that day is coming, though.

The thing that got me, though, was that this group was singled out early to join a special math club because of their potential in math. They weren’t singled out as being poor math performers; they were singled out as having potential to do great in math, and that changed their perception of themselves. They went from being finger-counters to being mathematicians.

I suggested in a comment on her blog that she introduce a second set of cards, with operators like +  , – , ^, ( and ) , x, and / fraction and maybe even %, so that they begin playing with higher order concepts.  This is an amazing process, and I hope she’ll document it so that this game can become part of math teaching all over.  

Isn’t it nice to have friends and colleagues in teaching you haven’t met yet, but that you meet through their writing over the internet?

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