Damath: Learning math the Pinoy way

February 19, 2010 11:24 pm 

By Hannibal C. Talete

MANILA, Feb. 19 — "Damath" comes from the Filipino checker boardgame called “dama” and mathematics. It blends local culture, education and digital technology that aim to make math teaching and learning child-friendly, challenging and interactive.

In its unique way, damath boardgame equips the Filipino school kids with competitive life-long learning for understanding and information and communications technology (ICT)-fluency skills.

When school children play damath boardgame, they also learn to explore, firm up, deepen, and transfer to daily tasks the concepts of real numbers and its properties and operations.

Moreover, it stimulates the children’s capability to think deeper through creative math storytelling, flowchart, concept map, tree diagram, picture riddle, haiku, cryptogram, secret code decoding, simulation, role playing, jingle or rap composing, reflection journal writing, and problem solving.

This joyful and practical approach to contextualized teaching and learning math is the brainchild of Presidential Merit Medal awardee teacher Jesus L. Huenda.

As a public high school teacher in Sorsogon, Huenda always thinks of ways to optimize his talents to help others. This describes best this ordinary teacher who was cited by no less than the President of the Republic for his out-of-the-box “contribution in terms of innovative approaches in teaching and learning mathematics.”

According to Huenda, this is how damath works:

“I integrate some math concepts and numeracy skills in the indigenous boardgame of dama. In the 32 white squares (the other 32 alternately arranged squares are colored green) of the 8×8-square damath playing board, I put the symbols of mathematical operations like addition (+), subtraction (-), multiplication (×) and division (÷). The 12 damath chips for each player are divided into two sets (blue and red chips): those with zero, and even numbers with positive sign (+); while odd numbers have negative (-) sign. The two players try to capture chips by adapting the existing dama rules to numeracy skills which result to higher positive points, while evading those with lower negative points.”

When the learners play damath, they aim to get higher point over the opponent. Capturing the opponent’s dama chips is strategically planned such that a player would target a chip representing high number. The game becomes a combination of strategic higher order thinking skills and basic mathematical operations.

This strategy in teaching and learning math with Understanding by Design (UbD) framework has helped students look at mathematics as a subject not so difficult to learn.

“Unknowingly, the players are using the mathematical fundamentals when they play damath,” Huenda explained. “Those who used to dislike math is actually learning how to use math when he/she plays the boardgame and in the process learn the subject,” he said.

Aside from damath, Huenda has also developed the “pierdi-gana” boardgame. He calls this boardgame “scidama.” This is the opposite of damath in the sense that the players’ main target is to have their dama chips consumed by their opponent in order to win. Scidama is focused on bringing about environmental consciousness among the school children.

Literally, pierdi-gana means to let go by disposing water, fuel and energy consumption that contribute to global warming and climate change.

The main objective of the players in scidama is to divest themselves of extravagant consumptions that can lead to environmental degradation. Here, the scidama chips represent kilowatt-hours of electricity used, cubic meters of water consumed, liters of oil consumed, cooking gas used, among others.

The players strategize in such a way that they will have to reduce their consumption of these resources and in the process help in arresting global warming and climate change. “The less you consume resources, the less you contribute to the destruction of the environment. This is what we want to instill in the minds of our learners,” Huenda pointed out.

In the scidama, the player’s main objective is to have his/her dama chips be captured by the opponent in order to win. The player who first has his/her chips decimated by the opponent wins the game. This means that the winner is able to divest himself/herself of these resources and does not use them unnecessarily.

“Kabaliktaran ng damath ang scidama kasi ito ay pierdi-gana o ubusan ng chips. Dapat maubos ang chips mo para manalo. In other words, I have to dispose off my expenses in water, electricity, oil and others so that I will not contribute to global warming and climate change. Kung malaki ang konsumo ko, I will contribute to the destruction of the environment. Gagawa ka ng plano na pagkatapos ng laro konti lang ang konsumo mo at ibibigay mo ang dapat mong konsumo sa kalaban mo upang hindi ka makasali sa paglubha ng kapaligiran,” Huenda said.

Another collaborative innovation which Huenda did in cooperation with some computer science students is the “eDamath” which uses digital technology in playing damath against the computer itself.

The damath computer game helps develop the strategic and analytical thinking skills of the students. Similarly, when two players are interconnected in their computers through the Local Area Network (LAN), they can play damath in a remote platform and the computer becomes the arbiter or scorer.

Huenda’s electronic damath playing board can be accessed through the DepEd website (http://www.deped.gov.ph/BSE/iDEP). The eDamath appears in the computer monitor together with the damath chips that are properly labeled with positive and negative signs in even and odd numbers, respectively. (PNA Featyures) scs/HCT

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