One of my outcomes in Math is learning decimal places to the thousandths and ordering and comparing decimal numbers to the thousandths.

The Olympics have been a perfect opportunity to teach this outcome as timing in many sports is to the thousandth of a second, a perfect real world context for decimal place value!  Luge, Skeleton, Short Track Speed Skating, and many skiing events all have very precise timing that could be pulled into a mathematics lesson.

I used the game Mario and Sonic at the Winter Olympics to collect data for a mini unit on comparing and ordering decimals to the thousandths.  It provided a fantastic context for learning.  The students were completely engaged, and amazed at how fast thousandths of a second flew by.  They understood very quickly that decimals are parts of a whole.

They each too a turn to collect a time and we recorded all of their times.  I have never seem a class so excited and engaged to learn about decimals!

Our top four times in the snowboard cross:

1:02.272 – Sam

1:06.730 – Mr. V

1:08.430 – Michael V.

1:15.081 – Mariana

We used the data we collected in lessons all week.  We learn how to say decimal numbers out loud, added and subtracted decimals, and ordered and compared decimals.  The students learned very quickly that the smaller decimal numbers, meant lower numbers, which meant finishing ahead of the other racers.  This is a difficult concept, but a game made it very clear and concrete for them. 

The more I look at games as a context for learning, the more I see the value and potential.  I do worry about the amount of screen time my students receive already, the next project will have to be something outside as the Canadian winter begins to thaw!

Below is a Prezi I put together about Games Based Learning, looking at the background research for and against using games in the classroom.