The West Boulevard fantasy football league is in full season with fourth-graders keeping their eyes and math skills on their drafted team. Sounds like fun and it is, but even more so, the kids are gaining valuable math skills in the process.
"It was my idea to use fantasy football in the classroom," said fourth-grade teacher Lee Christman. "I wanted something that would connect all the students and something that they would have fun with while learning. I had the idea three years ago, researched it and found that there is a book out there that provides the teacher with many ways to incorporate it into their math curriculum."
She said the math concepts that fantasy football teaches are enormous. It first teaches data collection and helps the kids develop skills in that area as well as interpreting and analyzing the data. It also is great for practicing for rounding, decimals, fractions, mode/median/range, adding and subtracting, and reading a table.
The program begins with drafting players. Christman realized some kids didn't watch NFL football and would need some help in that area. On Thursday, Sept. 12, Christman invited parents to the draft day when the kids selected their team players. Each football player was given a value in dollars and the kids were only allowed to draft up to $40 million as their team maximum. Once the team is chosen, the season opens.
"The kids have one day a week in math class that is deemed Fantasy Football Day, which is when they collect their data, add up a total for their team, and choose the next week's lineup based on their roster that was picked on draft day," she said.
The program at West Boulevard runs all the way through the Super Bowl. The three winners from each fourth-grade classroom will win a prize at the end of the regular season and the student who picks the points and Super Bowl winner also gets a prize. In the past, these prizes have included autographed pictures of NFL players.
"The thing I most love about having the kids use this program is that they are using math skills the whole time without even realizing it," Christman said. "They become very fluent at performing many math concepts in their heads. The other thing I really enjoy is it brings the class together. They are talking about it to each other and are excited to come into school Monday morning to discuss the scores/games over the weekend. It also gives many fathers something to discuss with their children that they both, now, have an interest in."
One interesting note is that fantasy football is just as popular with the girls as with the boys. In fact, the girls have become very good at it.
"The girls love fantasy football," Christman said. "The interesting thing is that many of the winners in the past two years have been girls. Many of the girls take it very seriously, and again love the fact that they can now watch football or talk football with their fathers - or both parents for that matter."
She said many staff members at West Boulevard also do the program along with the kids. She found the kids like talking to their teachers about player scores and they love being able to compete against the teachers as well.
"This is the third year I have been doing this program and plan on using it every year," Christman said. "It helps all studentsat any academic level."