You know who those students are. No matter what you do as a teacher, they just hate math. Perhaps there is a simple concept they never picked up in the earlier grades, or maybe they just don't care for numbers. You can make the class as exciting as possible, but some children are just more interested in other subjects. One way to motivate those students who really would rather be in another class is with computerized math games.
Math games do not replace the need for a teacher. There is nothing that educational software can teach in math that can be taught without a teacher. Math is one of those subjects that really requires an instructor. However, math games can be used to reinforce and reward in the math classroom.
Imagine if you are teaching junior high math and realize that some of your students do not know how to add and subtract. If you have to take valuable class time to teach these basic elementary math skills, the rest of your students will suffer. However, if this student group is not able to do simple addition or subtraction, they are going to struggle all year. One way to encourage them to practice in a fun, competitive way without detracting from the overall class is to allow them to play math games. Maybe time can be set aside regularly and designated as free time. Students who need to reinforce skills can get extra math practice and students already at grade level can start homework or be challenged at a higher level. Teachers can set up the math games so that they focus on areas that need reinforcement. You can make random groups and rotate them so all of your students get a chance to play during the week. This way, certain students are not identified and all students receive important practice.
One benefit of math games that is often overlooked is the fact that the students are working independently. Sometimes those students who struggle in subjects, especially math, are embarrassed about their difficulties. If you were to play a group practice game or ask them to answer questions orally, they might be too embarrassed to try their best. On the computer, however, these students are not faced with their peers. They can progress through the math games at their own level, gaining valuable practice each day.
As you are shopping for math games, you need to realize that there is a wide range of products available. You will still be able to find traditional math games. These are the games where students practice their basic facts with arcade-like programming. But, math games are no longer only the arcade-style games you may remember. You can find software that contains your students' favorite cartoon or movie characters. As they move through the levels they must answer math questions to proceed. Tracking student's progress and the cability to personalize lessons to the student's ability are features of some math game software. Students advance levels once they've reached competency on skills being worked on. Some math games have features that encourage and build analytical skills, problem approach, logic and systematic thinking. While your students may not realize this is math, you know that these thinking skills are essential to finding success in the subject. You can even purchase mystery programs where the students act as detectives solving "math mysteries."
Whatever program you decide to use in your math classroom, be sure to set aside time when the students can play math games. Interactive math games are one way to introduce and reinforce math concepts with an entertaining medium. With math games, math can become a little bit more fun for everyone.
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