I had the privilege of presenting at the Computers in Education Society Ireland 2015 conference this year. I aimed the presentation at teachers who wished to adopt games into the mathematics classroom. The main focus was on classroom and student contexts and how these adapt how we can successfully implement these new game-based learning strategies for the teaching and learning of mathematics. Each of these contexts can impact on whether students enjoy mathematics, are confident doing mathematics, value mathematics and see the relevance of mathematics. Contexts can differ in terms of the ethos adopted within the school and therefore impact upon the classroom layout. Classroom contexts show the challenges of adopting game-based learning into the classroom in Ireland.
Without giving too much away, it is now time for Irish classrooms to look at how they wish to adopt game-based learning strategies including one of the main characteristics - collaboration. Classrooms still have a reminiscence of post-war Ireland where classroom desks are separated and no talking is encouraged. However, for the few that are championing different strategies in their classrooms, there are designated classrooms for the teaching and learning of mathematics as a place to encompass all things enjoyable about mathematics. I should hope this continues and becomes a growing trend across our schools.
Again without giving an entire synopsis regarding Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and Expectancy-Value Theory (EVT) with respect to student contexts, it's one small step that could possibly allow for greater game-based learning strategies to be adopted.
Now turning back to the conference - the keynote speaker, Tim Rylands, gave an inspiring talk about creative writing and getting students engaged in their own learning through the creation of imaginary animals. He gave great resources available where teachers can download free apps and use green grass to project animals and get students to talk and write about their adventures with these animals. His talk was inspiring to say the least and left the audience in aw at what could be done with a few simple, free and effective teaching and learning tools.
I then went to a workshop hosted by Camara Ireland in relation to Design Thinking. It was another inspiring workshop that showed the different stages in the Stanford Design Thinking process. From idea right through to testing, we can all benefit from design thinking in schools.
Following this and after a quick cup of tea, I went to the computational thinking presentation. This encompassed translating to students how computers decode letters and numbers through binary. There was a worksheet given that got us to write down 1s and 0s for different letters and numbers. The worksheets were definitely a different take on understanding computational thinking - getting us to colour in a teapot was the highlight of the 1s and 0s game. It was interesting and engaging to say the least.
I'd like to now just say a quick word about CESI 2015, it was inspiring and interesting looking at the new ideas being adopted across different countries and across schools in Ireland. Long may this conference continue to engage and inspire teachers to adopt different teaching strategies in their classrooms. Here's to CESI 2016!
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