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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Math game scores with students

A video game contest at Waipahu High serves as a channel for teaching algebra.

Laura Devaney
"In today's story: Important skills students need in the professional world; a math video game is causing jumps in student engagement." summarizes Laura Devaney, Managing Editor.

Fourteen- and 15-year-olds can be a tough crowd—especially when it comes to math. But featuring the unpopular subject in an interactive video game and turning it into a competition managed to transform hundreds of freshmen at Waipahu High School in Hawaii into a pretty boisterous bunch.

“I was impressed,” said teacher Amelia Cook, who coordinated the algebra-focused competition that riled up more than 450 students. “I couldn’t even hear myself” because of all the cheering.

Photo: eSchool News

Four of the school’s seven Small Learning Communities for freshmen packed the cafeteria from 8:15 to 11:45 a.m. on Dec. 7 to compete in the school’s first-ever DimensionU House Cup Championship Tournament, Cook said. DimensionU, formerly Tabula Digita, is a company that produces multiplayer educational video games.

The game’s setting is reminiscent of the “Halo” video game series, without the violence. The object is for a player, working alone or on a team, to overcome obstacles and answer multiple-choice math questions to earn points. The player or team with the most points after a number of timed rounds wins.

Cook, who recently left her traditional teaching position to become the school’s math coach, said she first used the virtual game in her classroom four years ago. She hosted her own class competitions over the years and decided to turn the game into a learning community competition for the first time this year, modeled after the House Cup competition in the Harry Potter series of books and movies.

The Dec. 7 competition covered a range of topics such as fractions, decimals, and percents; inverse operations; solving linear equations; and order of operations.

Source: eSchool News