Tag Archives: Arlington Academy of Hope

A Visit from Uganda!

In 2008, ThinkFun donated several sets of MathDice to the Arlington Academy of Hope (AAH), a US-supported primary school in poverty-stricken rural Eastern Uganda.

We received an update and photos last year from an American volunteer teacher, and this spring we were contacted by Elisa Joseph Anders, a local parent who produced From One Village, a documentary on this remarkable school (video is embedded at the bottom of this post).

We were thrilled to learn from Elisa that AAH Headmaster Thomas Kisolo Kitandwe was planning a visit to the area, and even more excited to learn that he hoped to spend an afternoon at ThinkFun further exploring ways in which games like MathDice could be integrated into the learning experience of his students!

We spent a very productive afternoon listening as Headmaster Thomas shared both his desire to stretch his students’ critical thinking skills through game play and the struggles he faces in a country in which students’ future prospects are dictated by a their performance on a single, incredibly rigorous exam.  The Ugandan schools follow a rote learning model, in which students are to accustomed to having opportunities to explore and play as part of their learning.

However, seeing the flexible mathematical thinking a game like MathDice can foster sparked an idea with Headmaster Thomas, and we spent a long time brainstorming ways in which his teachers could integrate more experiential game-based learning into the curriculum to stretch students and better prepare them to be problem solvers and creative thinkers in the 21st century.

Also as part of his visit, Headmaster Thomas joined us to celebrate the 7th Annual Arlington County MathDice Competition!

We are very excited to continue to support the Arlington Academy of Hope and work with Headmaster Thomas and his staff to find ways to integrate thinking games into the lives of his students!

To learn more, here is the fabulous documentary which details the incredible work being done at this school! Enjoy!

MathDice in Uganda!

This guest post is by Cynthia Margeson, a retired teacher from Arlington, Virginia, who has been teaching for the past five years at the Arlington Academy of Hope (AAH), a U.S.- supported primary school located in poverty-stricken rural Eastern Uganda. The school, with 325 students from 1st through 7th grades, was founded by Arlington residents John and Joyce Wanda, who emigrated from Uganda in 1996.

MathDice have traveled all the way to Uganda!

Students at AAH learn largely by rote. They have few learning materials other than books. Using manipulatives similar to MathDice is unheard of in most Ugandan schools. We were so excited when ThinkFun donated MathDice to AAH — we knew this would be a fun and engaging way to help students develop critical thinking skills.

In January 2009, I took 100 sets of MathDice with me on my annual trip to AAH. Upon my arrival in Uganda, I held a workshop for teachers to teach them how children can learn to apply their math skills through games such as MathDice. I then taught them to play MathDice. The upper grade teachers were immediately convinced and introduced MathDice to their students. Teachers of younger grades decided to simplify the game for their students by using just the operations of addition and subtraction to reach the target number.

The students love playing MathDice. We always have a group of eager learners. It is wonderful to see how they are learning as they play. In addition to class time, they usually play during lunch. The photos show AAH students playing MathDice in the library and the courtyard.

AAH plans to share MathDice with its graduates who are in secondary school when they come back to the village during term breaks. Current Primary 6 (6th grade) and Primary 7 (7th grade) students are excitedly looking forward to challenging the graduates to a Math Dice tournament! AAH also hopes to introduce MathDice to neighboring villages.

AAH is extremely grateful to ThinkFun for donating these MathDice to them. MathDice are making a huge difference at this school in rural Uganda by expanding the AAH students’ math skills, and they are having fun doing it! Thank you, Bill and Charlotte!

MathDice have made it to international status!

Interested in using MathDice with your students?  We’ve got oodles of free resources for you!  Download practice sheets and MathDice-themed games for your classroom!