Counter Attack

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Aims and objectives
This is a fun way for pupils to revise their spellings and practice their mental maths recall and problem solving skills. As the activity can be played in 1 or 2 player modes then this lends itself to being used as an assessment tool, especially as the activity produces detailed results at the end of each game.

Previous knowledge
Spelling version: pupils should be familiar with the high and medium frequency words as outlined in the NLS. The activity is differentiated by Key Stage.

Maths version: pupils should be familiar with the four main operations. The level of difficulty can be matched to pupil experience - using numbers up to 5 (easy level) to numbers up to 30 (hard level).

In the classroom
This activity has been designed to test either spelling or mental maths skills in a fun and engaging way. The aim is for the pupil to make a continuous line of 4 red counters either horizontally, vertically or diagonally by dropping counters into the frame without a second player (or the computer) blocking them with yellow counters. To drop a counter the pupil has to answer either a spelling or a maths question first. If their answer is correct then their counter will drop down but if they get it wrong they miss a go!

Mental Maths
This version of the game displays randomly generated mental maths questions using the four main operations ( + - ¸ x ). The difficulty of the game can be changed from the easiest level (using numbers up to 5) to the hardest level (using numbers up to 30).

As the game progresses it displays the number of correct answers achieved against the different kinds of questions answered making this a useful assessment tool.

The spelling version uses randomised word banks taken from either the KS1 or KS2 Literacy Strategy high and medium frequency words. On hearing the word spoken (sound required) the pupil types it in and if correct their counter is placed in the frame. At the end of the game a record file is produced that shows which words they attempted and how they spelt them. This forms a useful method of assessment as well as a record of achievement for future reference.

The activity is based on a familiar game which children will be able to relate to. This provides a fun context for what could sometimes be deemed as mundane but essential routines (periodic mental maths and spelling tests). Pupils can either play against the computer or against each other. By using an interactive whiteboard the whole class can become involved in the activity.

Although using the activity is fairly intuitive it is recommended that the instructions are read prior to using the game to ensure that the levels of difficulty are appropriate to the pupils’ abilities. Also, the game can be played by either mouse or keyboard input so the different methods need to be identified in advance as well as making sure the computer’s sound is functioning correctly.

It is worth noting that in the maths version there is a running tally of (in)correctly answered questions which will aid both summative and diagnostic assessment opportunities. For the spelling version, at the end of the game, a record file can be displayed (as well as printed and saved) which shows a list of the words attempted during the game together with the spellings that the pupil entered. Again, this is an extremely useful document for either record or assessment purposes.

An added extra to Counter Attack is an additional version of the game which doesn’t require any questions to be answered. This means that the game can be played in its own right ‘just for fun’. Having said that, in order to beat the computer (or another opponent) there is still a lot of problem solving and strategy development being exercised!

Support materials description: Resources type:
The high_frequency_words.pdf contains the NLS list of high and medium frequency words for levels 1, 2 and 3 and will prove useful for either reinforcement or extension activities. high_frequency_words.pdf

Curriculum references
Mathematics – KS1:
Ma2 1a,b; 3a,b,c,d,e

English – KS1:
En2 1a,e,f,g; En3 4b,c,e

Mathematics – KS2:
Ma2 1a,k; 3a,d,e,f,h

English – KS2:
En2 1a,b; En3 4a,b,c,d

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