How To Teach Math Using a Nintendo Wii

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Teacher Robert Drewnowski had only $300 in grant money to help him develop a more effective way of teaching math to fourth graders. He used it to buy a Wii.

The $300 came to the Bacon Elementary School teacher as part of a special science and math grant doled out by New Jersey’s Millville Board of Education to 32 educators across the district’s nine schools.

"Three hundred dollars doesn’t sound like much, but it can go a long way if it’s used the right way," Drewnowski said.

In the teacher’s case the right way involved purchasing a Wii and a few extra controllers. Seeing the Wii in a school isn’t all that surprising. Many learning institutions have tinkered with using the device to help students with physical fitness or reading. But math? That’s a different subject altogether.

What Drewnowski does is offer the Wii as an incentive. If the children do well with their work, they’ll get a chance to play Wii Sports in class. But that’s just a carrot on a stick. Where does the learning come in?

Drewnowski has the children record the scores and statistics of the games played. After the play session those statistics are plotted into graphs and used to compute statistics showing how the players performed.

It’s an incredibly creative way to sneak math into a video game that has nothing to do with the subject.

"We use it as an incentive in math. If the kids do all their work, they can play with the Wii," he said. "If you bring stuff like this in, it gets kids who never pay attention to pay attention. I want the kids to know they can have fun while they’re learning."

Check out the video below to see Drewnowski and his students in action. It may look like fun, but they’re learning.

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