A couple of days ago I had one of my 6th grade teachers express interest in using iPad games to motivate her students in math. They are just starting algebra so I immediately thought of the game dragon box +. It’s a super cute game with levels that progressively get more difficult. What I also love about this game is that it introduces new rules every couple levels. The kids don’t know this when they start but these rules are the rules of Algebra.
I remember when I found this game a couple years ago. I decided to give it a try while I was waiting to renew my Indian visa in the Chennai Foreign Residents Registry Office (FRRO), probably the worst administrative office that has ever existed. It usually was at least a 2 hour non air-conditioned wait in a very cramped room with no semblance of any sort of order. Anyways, I played the game all the way through during my 2 hours wait and it was great. I think it helped me better understand some algebraic concepts and I could definately see how kids would be motivated to play. It had all the good aspects of a game that were discussed in the last module. It was challenging but not too challenging, it rewarded you with passing levels, kind of like angry birds and it introduced new rules slowly.
I tried it with a class the next week and it was a hit. After they completed all the levels, I made them reflect and draw conclusions between the game and the algebraic rules they were learning. Though not all of them became algebraic geniuses from playing the game, they told me that they had fun and that it helped with their understanding.
The 6th grade class that I want to try this out with was not quite ready yet. I asked the teacher to have 4 or 5 students that were ahead of things in their math work to come test the game out. I really didn’t give much instruction because the game tells the students the rules as the levels progress. I simply asked them to work together to understand the game, because they would be the ones helping their classmates understand the rules in a few weeks time.
They had a blast working together. I actually left them alone for a while to go through the levels by themselves. When I returned they understood the game but we’re stuck on a challenging level. I asked them if they knew what this game was helping them understand. One student said fractions, another said it was math and they last one said, “hey, is this algebra? They all agreed not to tell their other classmates that this was a math game and they were all confident that they could explain the basic rules (which are basically the rules of algebra). I think my exploration into game-based learning went well. I’m excited to see how the activity goes in a whole class session.