Rob Vingerhoets is a well-renowned educator in Melbourne, Australia. He has taught in many school settings and was a Principal for a prestigious Melbourne private school for a while too. He is an author of many educational texts, presents to educators on a regular basis and works with schools to help schools and educators improve the delivery of math classes, as well as the engagement level and understanding of mathematical concepts of students.
Last month, I was fortunate to have Rob visit my classroom and work with my year 6 students. My class isn’t the easiest class for visiting educators to work with and engage, but within minutes, Rob had my students eating out of the palm of his hand. He introduced my class to a game called ‘Date Maths’, where you create equations to equal the numbers 1 through to 20 using only the digits in that day’s date. The activity is timed and if all 6 digits are used in an equation, a bonus is awarded; that being 30 seconds off the total time. My class had never played this game before and within minutes, they were applying order of operations across to equations so all 6 digits were included. Some students also noted that if you multiplied or divided a number by one, the total remained the same; however, if you multiplied a number by zero, the value was wiped.
I was amazed by the deep level of thinking this game promoted. Each student shared an equation. It is definitely a game that caters for all mathematical abilities.
The one thing I admired whilst Rob was playing this game with my class, was that whenever he could, he would relate a score to a mathematical concept, i.e. “You have completed 5 out of 20 equations. How do you write that as a fraction? percentage?” These incidental teaching points provided concrete examples for my students to relate to. I truly believe my students will remember fraction to percentage conversions now as a result of this game. It was fun, it was challenging, there was a clear purpose and it involved the class working together as a team.
It was a pleasure to meet and work with Rob. My students adored him and we look forward to working with him again in the future.