As teachers, one of the most motivating strategies we’ve found is competition. Used well, with students of equal or near ability, competition is an engaging strategy for moving learners forward in their learning. This is most obvious in sports, if a team is playing against another team that is just ahead of them in skill a good team will step up to perform beyond what they could perform otherwise. We wanted Times Table Galaxy to use competition to engage and motivate learners to learn their number knowledge facts.
One of the great services Apple offers on their devices is Game Center. It allows users to safely and privately play against their peers, and compare how they are doing in a game with other people around the world. Times Table Galaxy uses Game Center to keep track of how quickly learners can recall their times table facts, and allows them to challenge people they know in real life to beat their times.
The students in our class have made real efforts to top the charts with their scores, and challenge one another to get better and better scores. This has created a really neat buzz and resulted in the kids moving forward in their times table knowledge in measurable and significant ways. We obviously don't feel comfortable sharing data from real, live students - but we have lots of quantatative evidence that shows Times Table Galaxy improved their times table knowledge and fluency. Yay!
Times Table Galaxy will be available soon, for free, for iPhone and iPad.