# PLAYING GAMES

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```					     PLAYING GAMES
Carol Kohlfeld investigates the lost art of playing games.

My second grade mathematics curriculum consists            could see how it was effecting their participation
of exploration, direct instruction and the practice        in a fun activity.
of basic maths facts through the playing of mathe-
Lesson 2: Taking turns
matic games. As a teacher, I have found that this
activity provides insight as to how children are        The most unexpected game behaviour I noted was
learning maths but also how they are losing the ‘art    the lack of understanding of how to take turns.
of playing games’.                                      • I observed an argument during a game
I observed the children during their daily gaming       concerning who would be next to roll the dice.
sessions and took notes on several reoccurring              I intervened and asked who had rolled last. I
social skills that needed my intervention. Choosing         suggested that the child to his left should be
partners, taking turns, patience, and the inevitable        rolling next. To my surprise they all disagreed
lose were all difficult situations for my students.         and began to show me that they had been
With that in mind, I developed Playing Games            taking turns by crisscrossing the circle with no
101 as a set of prerequisite lessons where my               strategies of order. They continued to argue
students would learn the art of playing games.              while each student tried to tell me who he/she
These simple lessons were fun for the students and          thought should roll next. At no time did they
set a good foundation and expectations for their            even suggest the idea of going consistently
classroom game-playing behaviours.                          around the circle to the left or right. They were
more concerned that their friend got to roll
Lesson 1: Choosing partners                                 next. This was exceptionally hurtful for a child
•   My students were instructed to role play asking         that hadn’t been chosen to roll next. She sat in
classmates to be their partners. They were              the circle silently wondering why she hadn’t
shown how to approach another child and ask             had a turn to roll the dice and worse yet, why
with polite words and actions, “Would you be            no one wanted her as their friend.
my partner?”                                        • After a hearty class discussion they agreed tha
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Description: Learning that they had the right to politely decline an offer was very surprising to most of the students. * I encouraged my students to choose classmates outside of their friendship circle so that they could have the opportunity to meet the other students in the classroom. * A few students complained that no one chose them as a partner. Another game would be started quickly with the emphasis on learning from the loss and how new strategies could be applied to the next game. * At the beginning of the year, time is productively spent on discussing a loss and determining if the loss was due to probability or to misunderstanding the need of playing strategies. * The students still dislike losing, but I see much more discussion about what they will do 'next time'.
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