Positive and Negative numbers through World of Warcraft
Many students that I’ve worked with love World of Warcraft. Some of these students have an extremely difficult time to understand school assignments, especially students with neuropsychiatric disabilities, because they are not as fun as the games they play. For them school is just a big obstacle you have to get through to get home and play games. That can result in if the assignment doesn’t catch the students attention and interest it will be very hard for them to go through with it. That puts the challenge on me the teacher to try to find creative solutions and information that appeals to students based on the knowledge, context and interests that the students have, through Vygotskijs socio-cultural learning. Here is one such task:
World of Warcraft has two factions / sides. In the game called pages ”Horde” and ”Alliance”. By creating a fictitious ”battlefield” where the Alliance stands for PLUS and Horde for MINUS it creates an easier way for students to learn about the positive and negative numbers and how they work in math. By dividing up the pluses and minuses of the two groups it will be easier for the student. It also becomes very clear to the student that when less and less come together, they become ”friends” and stronger because they are on the same side of on the page. I have also added figures from each faction so that the student can easily see which group the numbers belong to. The paper on the right, is used as a ”support notebook paper” for the student where he / she can write down the number and the group it belongs to. That paper that i call the ”battlefield” to stimulate the students imagination makes it visually clear to the student what side the numbers are on. Once we figured out the numbers the student will see, for example, the plus side is the ”stronger” side and therefore the positive side wins and the answer will therefore be plus and if the minus side is stronger the negative side will win and the answer is written with a minus.
When me and a student have gone through the first paper with the characters to learn the rules, we take a regular math book and go through positive and negative numbers in it. We still maintain the ”battlefield” as support note paper (paper to the right) with the two sides plus and minus to retain the feeling that we are still talking about World of Warcraft. And remember it doesn’t have to be World of warcraft. As long as there are to sides you can use whatever scenario that the student would find exciting. This approach has worked well with all the students I’ve worked with and it creates a understanding of how positive and negative numbers work by using the student’s interest and imagination.
This is one example of how you can implement game mechanics, context and connect them to students learning.