By Heather Martin
Why my students always complete their homework
We all know children like playing games. Telling pupils ‘today in maths we are going to complete this page of 30 calculations’ is hardly going to induce excitement. Tell pupils ‘today in maths we are going to play a game’, however, and it’s a very different story. If you have a child excited to engage with a subject, then impactful, and long-lasting learning will always follow.
With about 47 percent of kids aged 4 to 13 playing digital games every day, game-based learning is poised to further engage children in the classroom. Technology is now integrated into every aspect of modern society, and teaching practices need to remain current and up to date. Of course, it’s not as simple as just playing a game; the educational value of the game chosen needs to be justified and needs to enable children to deepen their mathematical understanding of a concept through developing fluency and recall of facts or reasoning.
Mangahigh as a platform has engaged our children, increased the amount of homework completed, made homework more straightforward and informative for our teachers and developed confidence in mathematics.
Within our primary schools we were looking for a way to engage and motivate pupils to complete work at home; sending home photocopied sheets wasn’t having the impact on learning we wanted and was taking teachers considerable time setting, copying, chasing and marking. We knew that our children were engaged by mathematical games through outcomes of our pupil voice so selecting the right platform for this became the next logical step.
“this is the first time I have ever been able to help my child with their homework and it is helping me with my maths too”
Mangahigh’s mantra that playing = learning and if a student is confident in their abilities, they can achieve anything, fit the bill for us. Mangahigh motivates the children, they freely choose to engage in the activities set and enjoy playing through them. However, it is not just our pupils it has engaged; one parent contacted school to ask for more information about the programme stating “this is the first time I have ever been able to help my child with their homework and it is helping me with my maths too.”
Mangahigh is easily differentiated so not only are teachers able to target different objectives for individual children depending on gaps in learning, they can also work at different paces within a game. The function of disabling the timer has been especially useful for some children— allowing them to work at a slower pace if needed without the additional pressure of the timer, whilst leaving it on for other children who thrive on the pressure of going against the clock. This aspect comes in especially useful when carrying through to work at home, ensuring some students can enhance skills they may have fallen short on during the day, and allowing others to advance through to the coming lesson’s agenda. And the pressure free, engaging framing of Mangahigh creates an enjoyable space for learning to take place at home and motivates students (and their parents!) to engage with the material when outside of teacher supervision.
Children have their favourite games on Mangahigh. Pupil voice tells us that Jet Stream Riders is amongst the most popular. As the games are repeated for different concepts children become familiar with the style of game and what to do and therefore this does not impact negatively on the maths. Many students might rush homework or ignore it altogether to play their favourite videogames. If you can replace this distraction with an equally desirable learning experience, students will become highly motivated to engage with the material you need them to before the next lesson.
Children in our schools have been motivated to do this and have even enjoyed the competition element of the games. One child said “I look forward to playing against others, it makes me think quicker about the calculations and try to work them out faster.”
Mangahigh as a platform has proved to engage our children, increased the amount of homework completed, made homework more straightforward and informative for our teachers and developed confidence in mathematics.
Words by Heather Martin, Assistant Head at the Blessed Edward Bamber Catholic Multi Academy Trust