*mathphobics*.

We all have this type of student in our classrooms, whether it is middle school, high school, or college. When working with this type of student, it is important to bear in mind how all students learn. I always refer back to the Conceptual Development Model which states that a student must first learn at the concrete stage (use manipulatives) prior to moving to the pictorial stage, and in advance of the abstract level (the book). This means that lessons must include the use of different manipulatives. I use games a great deal because it is an easy way to introduce and use manipulatives without making the student feel like “a little kid.” I can also control the level of mathematical difficulty by varying the rules; thus, customizing the game to meet the instructional objectives my students are learning. However, as with any classroom activity, teachers should monitor and assess the effectiveness of the games.

When using games, other issues to think about are:

**1)**Excessive competition. The game is to be enjoyable, not a “fight to the death”.

**2)**Mastery of the mathematical concepts necessary for successful play. Mastery should be at an above average level unless teacher assistance is readily available when needed. A game should not be played if a concept has just been introduced.

**3)**Difficulty of the rules. If necessary, the rules should be modified or altered in order that the students will do well.

**4)**Physical requirements (students with special needs). These should be taken into account so that every player has an opportunity to win.

In addition to strengthening content knowledge, math games encourage students to develop such skills as staying on task, cooperating with others, and organization. Games also allow students to review mathematical concepts without the risk of being called “stupid”. Furthermore, students benefit from observing others solve and explain math problems using different strategies.

Games can also….

- Pique student interest and participation in math practice and review.
- Provide immediate feedback for the teacher. (i.e. Who is still having difficulty with a concept? Who needs verbal assurance? Why is a student continually getting the wrong answer?)
- Encourage and engage even the most reluctant student.
- Enhance opportunities to respond correctly.
- Reinforce or support a positive attitude or viewpoint of mathematics.
- Let students test new problem solving strategies without the fear of failing.
- Stimulate logical reasoning.
- Require critical thinking skills.
- Allow the student to use trial and error strategies.

One math game my students truly enjoy playing is Bug Mania.

**It****provides motivation for the learner to practice addition, subtraction, and multiplication using positive and negative numbers. The games are simple to individualize since not every pair of students must use the same cubes or have the same objective. Since the goal for each game is determined by the instructor, the time required to play varies. It is always one that my students are anxious to play again and again!**