|The Teachers' Lounge|
|Where and When to Play|
School time is precious, and students can be stretched by all the activities available to them. So, how best to organize a MathDice program for your students?
The way to start is by recognizing what a revolutionary concept MathDice is: MathDice is a program that kids naturally will like to play recreationally, like a game… and that does a better job of teaching “basic facts” math than any other program available. Ideally, all of your students will play MathDice a lot, in class, after school and at home as well.
If you can’t reach this ideal (as most teachers are), then it is perfectly fine to work the program as best suits the time and resources available to you. Get the program started as you can, share the fun and playfulness of it, and give your students a chance to build their own excitement. From there, the program will start to build. And we’ll be here to help!Full Class vs Club Activity
Our strong recommendation with Main Season MathDice is to involve your entire class; this program is designed to spark interest and show the fun of math for all students, not just those who are naturally inclined to the subject. But for some teachers, it may just not be practical (yet) to include your entire class in the MathDice program. In this case, we encourage you to start out by organizing an after school club for students who want to take on the program and build their MathDice skills. For students who want to get involved in this way, they can have a goal of building their skills and getting ready for MathDice Tournament Season.Full Class MathDice Program
The easiest, most effective way to play MathDice is to set out a 10 minute block of time for playing at the start or the end of your math class, and have all students participate. Ideally, you can schedule this as a regular program: either every day, or certain days of the week. We have a number of teachers with MathDice programs organized in this way… the most effective programs run three or more times per week.
Any of the solo practice game challenges work well with this format, as does to simply offer a single MathDice point challenge.
We have created a full program to assist you to run 10 minute MathDice Challenge sessions, which you can find in Appendix 5. In this appendix, you will find overhead transparencies for each of the games listed above, as well as a full set of challenges (with solutions) that you can select for your students.Full Session Classroom Challenges
There’s nothing more that students like than to devote a full class period to game-playing; and we offer several MathDice Full Session Challenges that are as fun for your kids as they are richly educational.
A full description of Classroom MathDice Challenges that we offer can be found in Appendix 6. The game formats that we recommend include:
MathDice Solo Practice Challenges can be picked up and solved by individual students quickly and without much preparation or guidance. As such, they are ideal enrichment activities for students who have finished other in-class assignments early and need something to fill their time before the class period ends.Recess and Lunch Bunch MathDice
With proper encouragement and leadership from a teacher or involved parent, groups of students will happily gather during their free time, either during lunch periods, recess or after school, to play MathDice. There have been reports of great success with programs of this type especially from teachers in Fairfax, Virginia, including with students as young as third grade.
The best MathDice program for these activities includes:
In our minds, there is no question that the best way to leverage the power of MathDice to do the most for your students’ math education, is to get your students wanting to take the program home and play it there, either on their own or with their parents and families.
We have three recommendations for how to make this part of the program be as effective as possible.Normal Homework Assignment
The most straightforward way to have students play MathDice at home, is to assign it as part of your students’ normal math homework. For this, the Solo Practice Games: Soccer Shootout, Ski Patrol, MathDice Bowling and MathDice Mini-Golf work most effectively. Students like these games, and enjoy playing them… and parents who have a concern that their children’s homework be as orthodox as possible are sure to see that these challenges contain nothing but unadulterated straightforward math.Preparation for Classroom Discussion
There may be some days when you wish to devote your “10 Minute MathDice Warm-up” classroom session to one of the more advanced MathDice challenges, such as MathDice Scavenger Hunt or MathDice ChipAway. An effective way to accomplish this is to choose a challenge and hand it out a day or two before the class period, and ask each student to take the challenge and get their best score. With each of your students having already become familiar with the challenge, you can devote the entire 10 minutes to talking about students’ strategies for success.
This same technique can be used on days when you have scheduled an entire math class for MathDice team play. You can assign each student to solve a ChipAway or Scavenger challenge (or even one of each challenge) to the best of their abilities at home, and then on the day of the classroom exercise, you can group students into teams and have them devote the first part of the classroom period to comparing their answers and working together to refigure the challenge to improve their scores. The end of the period can then be devoted to reporting team scores and discussing strategies that various teams used to be successful.Playing with Parents
There is absolutely no reason why parents who understand the value of the MathDice program and choose to do so, should not be included in sharing in the opportunity to play MathDice with their children at home. From your perspective as a teacher, this qualifies as “low risk” parental involvement… all parents will be required to do is to play games with their kids. Parents who are good at math themselves can help their children see possibilities that they might otherwise miss; parents who are not so good, can help build self esteem when their children beat them at MathDice!
We are currently developing a Parent MathDice Kit, to be sent home to families to explain the MathDice program and how parents can get involved. If you want to know more about this program, just send an email to us.
The best MathDice programs to get parents involved with include: