If you are like me and a proud parent of a 7-ish year-old boy, you’ve no doubt encountered Pokemon cards – you may have even been completely into them yourself as a youth (personally, I was more into Power Rangers). These cards with pictures of strange animal-like creatures are part of a trading card game similar to Magic, and my son LOVES them. So, why not try to make the most of this often expensive interest and make it educational? For the past few months, rather than playing the real rules of the card game, we play with them by taking turns “battling” each other’s Pokemon with their attacks and associated amount of damage until the opposing Pokemon’s health points (HP) are reduced to zero. Needless to say, this involves plenty of subtraction using mental math. I’ve noticed that after several months of playing, my son’s subtraction skills are getting stronger – he even explains what he’s doing in his head after each calculation. Plus, he’s willing to do this for, like, an hour or two. It’s amazing how much learning kids will do if the activity is a game or using something that they’re totally interested in. That’s what I’ll be bringing back to my classroom after the winter break. Whether it’s basketball, dancing, or Pokemon cards (my Grade 9s LOVE Pokemon, too), make math fun and relevant.
Published by Jason To
I'm a secondary mathematics teacher at Westview Centennial Secondary School in the Toronto District School Board. I'm returning to the classroom following a stint as a TDSB Math Coach and Coordinator of Mathematics and Numeracy. I view math education through the perspective of equity, inclusion and anti-oppression and its intersection with student identities. As a powerful tool and vehicle for social change, I see math as student empowerment and ensure they see its learning as a social enterprise that challenges them to think critically and collaboratively. I am also a staunch advocate for the elimination of streaming in education — that is, the separation of students into distinct learning pathways based on students' perceived abilities and identities. I have worked at the school and system levels to support teachers with inclusive math practices and shape policy to remove streaming as a structure barrier to equity and inclusion. When I'm not doing all that, I pet my cat, try to read something, play a sport, watch a superhero movie, and be with friends and family. View all posts by Jason To