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Numberella – Making Children Better At Maths
Numberella is a game that makes children better at maths. In a recent trial at Boston Witham Academy, Lincolnshire, 100% of students who were underperforming relative to their peers improved their grade after playing Numberella twice a week for one term – one student by 3 whole levels (a 20% increase. (13% on average). The student who made the biggest gain was also the one who started at the bottom of the group – proving that Numberella does not favour the strongest mathematician.
Numberella was initially developed in a one on one teaching environment as a way to help children who struggled to engage with maths begin to enjoy the subject and improve their numeracy. Starting life as a tupperware box with folded pieces of paper and a dice, it has been through 9 different development stages, and thousands of hours of teaching, over 4 years. 2016 saw the first multiplayer trials commence in the form of Numberella Clubs, and in 2017/18 classroom trials began in 28 UK/US schools (both state and private), swiftly earning acclaim from both teachers and students.
Who’s it for?
Numberella has been used in a variety of situations; as an intervention product for children underperforming relative to their peers; as a mental arithmetic / ‘real life maths’ accelerator for gifted students; as a classroom tool for SEN students; as an engagement tool for older students who had failed their GCSEs. Numberella is a valuable tool in the armoury of any support teacher who needs a way to retain the attention of a student in the tail end of a session, where concentration often wanders. It’s also an ideal solution for parents / home educators who want a fun and stress free way of doing some maths with their kids.
How does it work?
The game works by combining luck and maths knowledge in equal measure. Game play is designed so that it does not penalise the player with less knowledge, which allows children of different abilities to play together, with an equal hope of winning. Because of this, a group of 4-5 children will concentrate on the game for its duration, and in the process, practice their mental arithmetic and revise the maths syllabus – without realising they are doing either! The accompanying rule book provides answers where necessary.
Is the content syllabus linked?
The game is designed to meet the demands of both the UK Key Stage, and the US Common Core systems. It comes in three levels, which in the UK pertain to Key Stage 1, 2, and 3, and align with US grades 2-4, 5-7, and 8+. Each box contains 135 maths questions, meaning that over the course of a few games the entire syllabus can be revised.
Any other benefits?
Numberella has a variety of benefits; the handling of dice and cards strengthens fine motor skills, and there are also dice stacking challenges which deepen this effect; the incorporation of ‘Fortune Cards’ – which directly influence the flow of ‘Antcoins’ between players – make Numberella a strategic game where decisions about which card to play, when, make an impact on the outcome. Cards can also be traded, which, combined with the currency base of the game, encourages children to develop bargaining skills and the social nous which these require. In combination with the Numberella online League system, it raises the profile of maths as a subject and helps change the way students feel about it for the better.
What’s the online League system all about?
The Numberella League is a way of deepening the impact of the game by creating continuity between sessions. Running a league creates a talking point, and thus brings maths and maths facts into the thought space of students outside of the classroom. The formation of long term memory is based around knowledge repetition, and running a league helps to achieve this. Because Numberella doesn’t favour the best mathematician, the league will be a source of fun for all involved, and positions will not reflect the usual hierarchy of the maths class.
Then what happens?
Once students’ accounts are validated by their parents, they are sorted into houses. The houses are based on the characters in the game. After every game, the Antcoins won by each student are entered into the website by the administrator, and a leaderboard forms.
School wide impact!
If Numberella is used across different year groups, the effect is amplified - a school wide league means school wide talking points, and an exciting new social dynamic - all related to maths. Parents are connected too, via their copy of the app – meaning that the excitement is transmitted across the wider learning community as well.
Can teachers push specific topic questions to the app?
Yes! Teachers can set up multiple choice quizzes to support the game, which students will receive on their Clubcards. These can be time limited and allow team cooperation – making homework fun and engaging!