intermittent since 2001


What can Dr Kawashima teach us? Notes from a talk

I’m currently sitting at a talk at BAFTA about an experiment in scottish schools using Dr Kawashimas Brain Training for the Nintentdo DS to teach kids. They refer to the teachers as digital immigrants and the students as digital natives. It seems to me that the immigrants will always have trouble teaching native, but in time to come the natives will start to teach the natives. Currently the immigrants teach in a methodical, serious and linear way, the way they learnt themselves – this will always alienate the students.
He talks about his reaction when the poorer students in his maths class came in with tetris at the end of term and had excellent skills for working out where to put the shapes in teris and discussed the game in a clear manner with school freind. He thought this might be a good way to apply learning to poorer students through console type non linear games.
Popular wisdom says that consoles and games are a very negative thing and some high profile people like Boris Johnson have written pieces against the scourge of gaming. Is it any worse than any other cultural phenomenon like punk, raves, etc… Is there a moral panic?
Does using something like the PS2 dance matt promote anything that one should panic about or does it improve coordination and excercise?
Using his Teacher Radar he saw a way to apply something like Brain training to his lessons to improve skills in low achiever. Shows an example of a child with poor literacy doing the mental arithmetic with impressive results.
He felt there was a link between physical excercise/brain gym and brain training. He bought 30 DS’s and embarked on the experiment between three schools. One class doing brian gym 15-20 minutes, DS group also used Brain Training for 15-20 minutes and the final group were a control group. The teacher who led the DS group talks about managing the lessons with the DS and how the children respected the machines and looked after them.
The results showed that certain children responded very well to using the brain training and gave them more interest and more confidence in class.
When doing maths tests the nintedo group showed a massive drop in the times it took them to do maths test – an average change of 3.42 points (see chart for scale). Also the scores in tests increased on an average by 10.14.
The teacher noticed in increase in speed with mental maths and increase in confidence. EVen children with supported learning have benefited from using Brain Training. See testimonials from the teacher and the students on the website. The children believe they have got faster using the DS and it has made them ‘smarter’ – is this a realistic effect of using the Brian Training game?
Because the DS sessions were well managed they feel that the students and the teachers are enjoying lessons more and the behaviour of the children is better and they are more settled.
The children became very interested in each others success and were motivated and keen to compare without being too competitive. It also seemed to bring the group closer together and flatten class hierarchies (ignoring which group they were in for maths etc…)
Teachers also allow the students to use the DS’s to send messages to each other using the pictochat on fridays – help to increase confidence of some children and bring people together. Classes are a wide range of abilities and again has helped to flatten chart.
The teachers hadn’t seen the results of the experiment but had noticed similar outcomes themselves.
At the end of the experiement the teachers think that the children in the class will miss them.
There are other games being used in this experiement; Phoenix Wright, Hotel Dusk: Room 215, Nintendogs, My Word Coach and also a PSP project. All teing into different areas of the curiculum.
More Scottish schols looking into joing the project and carry out larger research with local authorities. Will there be any more gains from using Brain Training and Brain Gym together. Continuing to affirm the message about games based learning in Scottish schools.

reference: www.ltscotland.org.uk/consolarium – all clips and videos from this session are here.
http://hotmilkdrink.typepad.com – D Robertson personal blog.

baftabrain trainingdr kawashimadslondonlondon games festivalmathsmental arithmeticnintendoschooltalk

mistersnappy • October 24, 2007

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  1. Sonam Dhillon November 3, 2007 - 12:59 pm

    I know of a better system of method hailing from India called Vedic Maths

    This is the worlds fastest mental math method and it can solve math problems mentally !

    Do check out this amazing site on Vedic Maths it has amazing resources and tutorials.

    Much Thanks

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