Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Digit Place game

For this week's math team meeting, I decided to start us off by teaching my colleagues how to play the Digit Place game.  I had learned about this game during a PD I had gone to in December and thought it would be a simple and fun way to get us started.  The 6th grade teacher was familer with the game, but the 7th grade teacher, and our ICT teacher were not. 

This elementary school teacher's classroom blog has the instructions on how to play.  After I explained the directions, we got a white board, marker and paper towel, paired up and started playing.  We ended up playing for about 15 minutes or so, and then had a discussion on how we could potentially use this game in our classroom and questions we could ask to encourage our scholar's thinking.  As we were sharing, I wrote down the questions that were coming up with on the board.  Some of the questions we came up with to ask our scholars were: "What do you know so far?" "Are there any digits that you are certain are in the number?  What information helped you?" "Have you eliminated any digits?" "What would be your next guess any why?" and "How could it help you to guess a number that included digits you had already eliminated?"  

What am I learning about collaboration?
One of the reasons that I chose the Digit Place game was because I wanted to keep it simple.  I anticipated that we would play the game for a few minutes, talk about it briefly, and then go on with the rest of our meeting, but that was not the case.  After playing each other, the discussion that we had was awesome.  What started out as a simple game, became a discussion on transforming the tasks that we ask our scholars to do to encourage our scholars to use thinking, reasoning, and problem solving skills.  I was amazed at the enthusiasm that something so simple as a game on digit place, could lead to.  

I think one of the reasons that this worked well was because it was something that the teachers could potentially share with their classes.  One of my complaints of past PDs has been the lack of practically.  There might be some good ideas, but I always liked the PDs where I left with something I could bring back to my students and try tomorrow.  A teacher's time is valuable, and nothing makes me more frustrated than feeling like I just wasted time at a useless PD, so I think one way to make collaboration more meaningful is by keeping things practical.  Who knew that something as simple as the Digit Place game could be so productive?


  1. I am never disappointed by the power of simply doing math together with colleagues. I think you were "amazed" by the enthusiasm because we don't take the time to create this simple, yet powerful experience of doing math together enough. Like reading a book together and having a conversation, or collaborating on a piece of writing, doing math together is fun and intellectually empowering. I also agree that when we can apply the math directly to our lessons, that makes the experience even more powerful. Although I wouldn't underestimate the power of challenging problems for our own content knowledge (which are not necessarily for our students).

  2. This sounds like an inspiring session you had with your colleagues! I think that starting with a problem that everyone could access was a great idea. No one was too threatened by it. Everyone could discuss their thinking. The thing that is impressive to me is where it led. How powerful to get to the point where it started a discussion on enriching other tasks to use thinking, reasoning, and problem solving skills! I think it was great that everyone was open to it and that you didn't have such a rigid agenda, which allowed this task to just flow.

    I agree that walking away with something practical is very important. I also think that the practical activity can also represent a bigger idea - which it sounds like it did. I think that you explored a task that ignited critical thinking skills. It did for you and your colleagues and in turn for all of your students. Super!