30 April 2017
Game to Learn

Mrs Linda Hou believes in fostering a love of mathematics through play.

What’s your job, and what do you do on a daily basis at work?
I’m the Lead Teacher for Educational Support at Holy Innocents’ Primary School. I teach students in the Learning Support programme for mathematics and plan interesting hands-on activities to engage them in their daily lessons.

Tell us about your work on game-based learning.
I’ve always wanted to make mathematics interesting and meaningful for students who are weak in numeracy. One day, while I was walking in the school canteen, I saw how the students were very enthusiastic about playing games that they’d brought to school. This sparked an idea about how I could make math come alive for the students.

Everyone loves to play games! They are stimulating and enable students to learn through play. Through their interactions, students can also pick up values and life skills in a safe environment.

I got my colleagues on board and we came up with a package of games customised to suit the students of different abilities. We researched ideas, explored commercially produced games and designed two of our own, Inno Bingo and Inno Numbers. These are adapted from the all-time children’s favourites, Bingo and Snakes & Ladders.

These games are played during recess. Students are also encouraged to borrow them to play at home, with their parents and siblings!

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That sounds fun. What’s been the response from your students to the games?
They enjoy the games and have really benefitted from them. The happy smiles on these young faces inspire me to leverage on games to make learning more fun and meaningful.

I’m heartened that my students enjoy learning math and the subject isn’t as daunting to them as before. Eventually, this joy of learning will translate into a love for the subject.

How did your supervisors and colleagues support you in this project?
I’m privileged to have a strong team working alongside me. As we embarked on our project, we tapped on one another’s expertise to see the project through. Seeing the fruits of our labour gives us a great sense of satisfaction!

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How did you balance curriculum requirements with exploring new ways to engage your students?
We’re always guided by our belief that play is one way that students can learn mathematics.

If we don’t try new ways of reaching our students, more conventional methods of teaching may take root in the classroom, and stifle learning. This limits the opportunities that students have to discover the beauty of mathematics.

I’m glad that we tried something new. This has also inspired more colleagues to explore innovative ways to motivate students and improve teaching and learning in their classrooms.

The challenge is how we can best tap on available technologies to make learning fun and meaningful. That’s why we’re now considering options like apps, to cater to our ICT-savvy generation.

Use two words to describe why you love your job.
It’s stimulating and meaningful. That’s why I’ve been a teacher for over 35 years!

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