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Sunday, June 25, 2017

Dear Hannah: LEarning - Talk To Me (A Game That Teaches The Language of ANY Subject)

Dear Hannah,

LEarn to do math, then learn what math does.

I developed the game Talk To Me to support this LEarning journey.



Purchase & Download Talk To Me - Arithmetic

Purchase and download "Talk To Me (Arithmetic Edition)" via TeachersPayTeachers.com!

Purchase and download Talk To Me - Arithmetic problem sets below to prepare for July 2017 Talk To Me Tournament!

7. Talk To Me - Arithmetic (Season 1, Volume 7) (50 Cards) (321-370) (Published 8-1-2017)


6. Talk To Me - Arithmetic (Season 1, Volume 6) (50 Cards) (271-320) (Published 7-24-2017)


5. Talk To Me - Arithmetic (Season 1, Volume 5) (50 Cards) (221-270) (Published 7-24-2017)


4. Talk To Me - Arithmetic (Season 1, Volume 4) (50 Cards) (171-220) (Published 7-17-2017)


3. Talk To Me - Arithmetic (Season 1, Volume 3) (50 Cards) (121-170) (Published 7-10-2017)


2. Talk To Me - Arithmetic (Season 1, Volume 2) (50 Cards) (71-120) (Published 7-3-2017)


1. Talk To Me - Arithmetic (Season 1, Volume 1) (50 Cards) (21-70) (Published 6-26-2017)

Support Our Work - Buy This Podcast (SEE BELOW)!



"LEarning (Talk To Me (A Game That Teaches The Language of ANY Subject))"
By Derrick Brown

Language and discourse are more important than vocabulary.

Vocabulary is knowledge of words.

If you say "Chuck D's stentorian cadence commands his audience's attention" - you probably have a large vocabulary.

Language is the means by which we use words, numbers and sounds to communicate.

If you instead say "Chuck D's loud, booming delivery commands his audience's attention" - you have impressive language skills.

Discourse is extended verbal expression in speech and writing.

If you instead say "Denzel's smooth delivery captivates his audience" - you, my friend, are skilled in discourse.

But I digress.

Similarly, numeracy (being able to communicate using numbers (and number sentences)) is more important that rote (repetitious) memorization of calculations.

"Talk To Me" is a game show (in the tradition of Taboo and Pictionary) that helps teams of contestants to build language, discourse, and numeracy skills.

It does so by providing correct answers formed from number sentence clues presented by a single teammate.

Our newest Arithmetic version of "Talk To Me" emphasizes "mental math" (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division).

For example, a clue giver who sees the number 80 – and the operator ‘X’ (multiplication) – on their card (or screen) can say (or write) “20 times 4”.

If their teammates respond “80” – then their team scores a point!

If they do not respond "80" - then the LEarning starts.

A skillful clue giver might then try "16 times 5" or "2 times 40" as clues ... they might also gently challenge their teammates to check their calculations.

This is why the game is called "Talk To Me" - the clue giver has to effectively calculate AND communicate!

Teams take turns giving and guessing clues for 1-2 minutes per round.

The game host and commissioner decide the actual length of each round, as well as the number of rounds per game.

At the end of the game, the team that provides the most correct answers wins!

This approach generates a simple, portable game that can be quickly taught, set up, and played.

This makes it perfect for in-classroom use as a review, enrichment, or reward tool.

It can also produce a entertaining gameshow where students (and adults) compete for real prizes.

This ends my description of the "what" - now let's talk about the "why".

Why Did I Develop "Talk To Me"?

Math is viewed by many of our communities as "esoteric" - something that is understood only by a few.

Conventional wisdom suggests that if you dislike and do not understand math, then you are "normal".

If you like and understand math, my friend, then you are "strange".

This is a mind game that is as old as time itself - one where the advantaged and priviliged even use their disadvantages to create more advantages.

But I digress.

In school, students embark on a journey to LEarn to *do* math, then to learn what math *does*.

For many, that journey is never completed - because learning what math *does* requires comprehensive, intentional, skillful acquisition and use of language.

This language acquisition often does not occur because it is not deemed important.

"Doing" math is what is deemed important.

People think "language" and "vocabulary" are synonymous.

So, students may have random homework and test problems that ask them to define words.

They respond with rote, memorized definitions from the textbook glossary ... then we "check the box" designating the standard has been met ... and we move on.

We sweep deficits under the rug until education is "reformed" (now the new sexy thing to say is "rethought").

Then we waste lots of time arguing about who is most responsible for our deficits, and engaging in "agenda-driven" studies that are often called "data-driven" ones.

But I digress.

Let's get back to completing the journey to LEarn to *do* math, then to learn what math *does*.

I am investing my time in understanding and defining how to complete the journey - so that every student goes as far as they would like to go.

I developed the game "Talk To Me" to support this LEarning journey.

In summary - the game research and development was informed by my own learning journey - which ingrained some sobering, fundamental truths ...

1. *Every* subject has a language that is communicated through words, numbers, and / or sounds.

2. Subject teachers impart knowledge through both language and demonstration - and assume that students are well-versed in both.

3. Math, science, and engineering courses require an unusual amount of demonstration - which often occurs at the expense of language acquisition.

4. I performed well in courses where I acquired and used both language and demonstration.

5. I did not do well in courses where I was deficient in either (or both) language and demonstration.

What Have Been The Greatest Challenges With "Talk To Me"?

The biggest challenges are also the biggest potential rewards ...

1. COMPETITION. The thrill of victory can distract the human spirit and psyche. When students focus more on defeating each other than on defeating ignorance, arrogance, and deficits - things go awry quickly.

I address this in my dual roles as "coach" (helping students prepare for the tournament) and "gameshow host" (facilitating the game in "entertaining" and "educating" ways).

Here's a simple example - in this new Arithmetic version of "Talk To Me", division problems are the most difficult.

So, if a student's card presents "85" and "division", they make take the easy way out and say "85 divided by 1".

This can lead to a right answer, but destroys the learning spirit of the game.

The first time this occurs during the game, as host I "call it out" (in love), then create a rule ... for the rest of the game, using the number "1" will result in the loss of 1 point.

2. HIDDEN FIGURES. We live in a world that is obsessed with never appearing concerned with "details", and never looking "dumb".

Math is often dismissed as a "detail" that has been made obsolete by calculators, smartphones, Google - or employees whose reward for being "too smart" is to handle all the boss' "details".

It is also dismissed as a "detail" because even well-regarded, well-spoken, intelligent people can be "shaky" with numbers.

What better way to hide weakness than to pretend it does not exist (or matter)?

For the record, I think that all these notions are silly, and I do not respect the ideas - nor their practice.

As silly as they are, though, I have learned to respect the power of conventional wisdom and "crowdthinking".

There is safety in numbers (pun intended).

The majority rules, and the majority sometimes fools.

As a man thinketh, so is he.

Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.

Changing thinking, hearts, and conversation is best done by changing MY thinking, heart, and conversation.

This can be initiated and sustained by fasting from opinions, and feasting on empathy.

Yes, I am talking about so much more than math.


About Derrick Brown (Principal Consultant)

I am Keisha's husband, and Hannah's father.

My *other* passion is empowering people via methods that balance skill & will, analysis & synthesis, ideas & execution, and activity & achievement.

I solve problems.

Copyright © 2017 Derrick  Brown. All Rights Reserved.

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