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Steven’s Most Memorable Moment – Discussion
Posted by Jon on December 10, 2019 at 2:55 amWhat was your big take away from this particular lesson?
What is something you are still wondering?
Share your thinking below.
Terry Hill replied 8 months, 2 weeks ago 11 Members · 12 Replies 
12 Replies

I really connected with Steven when he talked about the competition games. I was competent in Math but not fast at my thinking and I had huge anxiety when being asked to compete on math facts etc. It makes you reflect as a teacher when coming up with activities/tasks to ensure you are accommodating for all the different learners in the group.

Unlike Steven, I loved competing in Around the World as an elementary student because I knew my math facts and I rarely lost a round of the game. This was in the early 1960’s. As a teacher, I am horrified at the thought of creating stress for my students from a copetitive situation. I was always comfortable in my math classes until my last year of high school when I was in my final semester and I really didn’t understand the concepts that we were learning nor the uses for the elementary analysis that I was studying.

I have also moved all high competition “games” out of the classroom, noticing that too many students feel anxiety and intimidated once the timer comes on. So I definitely agree with Steven, that they don’t work for me as a teacher either.

I’m with you on that. I try to keep it collaborative despite it not serving those students with the competitive edge. I feel like they have a ton of opportunity to compete in life outside of math class 🙂


Being new to the math classroom, I became interested in competitive situations. Yes, the sound of excited students was really cool, however, a simple visual survey of the class showed that this was not the case for many others. So, no speed math in my class. Interestingly, other teachers in other subject areas have also dropped these types of activities after I brought up the subject.

Good on you to collect student voice to help you determine whether an approach is helpful for your class. It is so easy to make assumptions based on our own perspectives and forget that not everyone thinks like us.


So many of my students have the same feeling as Steven, getting anxious in math and having that amplified with the competition in the classroom.
I’m wondering then what kinds of competitive aspects can we bring into the classroom? I’ve found really solid engagement from many of my students with competition, but don’t want to be causing anxiety. Is there a place for competition in the math classroom without a timer?

Personally, I never enjoyed these types of games. No surprise, as a teacher, I don’t use these often. I’m so much more likely to use a game where students can encourage others and at least have the opportunity to ask for help, if they want. We want children to not be afraid to ask.

My takeaway is never to play Kahoot or any math games dependent on time.

The time component causes stress to many of my students so I stay away from those. The head to head component also stresses the fastest and shows students I am more interested in speed than their thinking process.

I do occasionally do timed activities, mainly as a prep for the timed tests such as the ACT or Workkeys. I have also found that the majority of my students like some competition. For example, when they are working in IXL I can put a live screen on the board that shows either how many questions they have answered correctly, or how much time they have been working. I was amazed to see some of my lower performing students continually looking to see where there name was and working really hard to get their name to the top. I don’t do this all the time they are in IXL, because I don’t want it to become something to focus on or stress about, but occasionally it does seem to help.