Sunday, September 4, 2022

Binomial Battleship

Some years I'm fortunate to be able to lead a capstone seminar where future teachers research math games and develop a math game of their own.

One such is this high school algebra game from Lucas Pohl. He writes about this in what follows.

When thinking about creating a math game myself, I knew I had a couple goals in mind. We had done multiple readings about what makes a good classroom game, and obviously I wanted to fulfill those criteria. Things such as being engaging, strategic, and grounded in coursework were very important to me. I had two initial thoughts: at first, I wanted to do a game that is based on statistics. Statistics is one of my favorite areas of math, and I think that it could lead to a great board game. However, I ended up going to my second thought, which was an adaptation of Battleship.

The initial idea was that the coordinate system used in battleships reminded me of different methods I had seen to multiply polynomials together. In school I remember myself and classmates having trouble multiplying polynomials together, so I thought that would be a good context of the game. Luckily, making an adaptation of a game checks some game design criteria for you. Because of this, I felt like I could focus on the subject area of the game. After trial and error, I had figured out the best setup for the game. Each team gets two grids, an attack and defense grid. The attack grid had the binomials on the sides, and the attackers would have to calculate the trinomials to attack, however, the defense grid was completely filled out. The sequence and fluidity of gameplay was then discovered through playtester feedback.

I think that teachers should want their learners to play this game because it is very effective at its job. Even creating the game, I became much more efficient multiplying binomials together. There is very little to suggest that playing this game is off topic, or unuseful. The game essentially is essentially getting students to do homework level repetitions, but in a context that makes it more competitive and fun. Another reason for teachers to implement this game is the opportunity for variations, and classroom connections. I feel this game has great flexibility and potential to be implemented in not only a lesson plan, but even lecture, or assessment questions. For example, teachers could use this game to get into conversations about common factors, and factoring trinomials. The game could become more engaging by letting students choose their own binomials for the grid.

These are just a few examples of the advantages of implementing Binomial  Battleship into the classroom. The truth is, this game is very young, but the potential it has to advance student learning is very high.

Game board: 

These teachers also make a video to promote an excellent math game they found. I couldn't agree more with this one, a classic from Joe Schwartz. I first saw it in this blogpost.

Lucas writes: The hundreds chart game is a great game for you to bring into your classroom for many reasons. I am going to give you three reasons why you should adopt this game into your classroom. First of all, it is incredibly engaging for students. This game will have students thinking of math in a more fun way, and they will likely find themselves enjoying math. Second, it encourages strategic thinking, and helps students develop that part of their brain. Developing this type of critical thinking will not only help them in your class, but all of their classes. Thirdly, it is incredibly easy to set up. There are almost no required materials for it. All you need is a 10x10 grid, and two different color pens. This game is the definition of minimal time and setup for the teacher, and maximum benefit for the students.

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