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Athenian Secret is a simulation for grades 2-6 that takes your students on a special journey to an ancient Greek city. The journey begins when students form teams and develop a team logo and flag using the Greek alphabet and mathematical symbols. An activity in probability is introduced when students determine who goes first on the journey by estimating how many coins (or beans or other objects) are placed in a jar. Students then work in their teams traveling through buildings of Ancient Athens solving arithmetic puzzles and problems through addition, subtraction, and logic while gathering clues to a secret formula in their quest to be Master Mathematicians. Athenian Secret motivates students to solve problems and make their way to the Secret Formula solution.
Athenian Secret incorporates Common Core State Standards and helps you as a teacher address some of the more pressing challenges of teaching basic math skills to your students. The unit facilitates differentiated instruction with a broad range of problems from which to choose based on your students’ ability and grade level. The satisfaction of solving problems early on will encourage them to decipher each successive problem. The mathematical portion of Athenian Secret is designed to last 12 sessions of 30 to 45 minutes each. You can shorten or lengthen the unit, depending on your schedule. If you choose, some of the work can be completed as homework helping your students’ families see the curriculum and work together in a home setting.
Athenian Secret also helps familiarize students with Greek gods, goddesses, and famous mathematicians and provides students with some background of ancient Greece. This experience can be expanded to increase interest in ancient Greece through geography, history, art, literature, music, and the Olympics.
Problem solving abilities are a key to mathematical understanding. Students who are involved in group learning and use manipulatives show higher achievement in mathematics and have a wider variety of strategies to use in solving problems. Athenian Secret is designed to build skills in problem solving, using fundamental mathematical operations, thinking critically, applying logic, and practicing estimation. Students develop positive feelings toward mathematics and working as a group to achieve goals.
If any TC members have used Athenian Secret, please share your thoughts in the comments section below.