EDU 625: Educational Games successful for learning?

Games in the classroom, huh? Seriously? Education is not what it used to be so open your eyes and get ready because gamification is changing the way students think and learn!

Apostol, Zaharescu, and Alexe (2013) define gamification as, “using the mechanics of games to make learning more engaging” (p. 67). The NMC Horizon Report (2013) stated that, “educational gameplay has proven to increase soft skills in learners, such as critical thinking, creative problem-solving, and teamwork” (p. 21). Furthermore, Shaffer, Squire, Halverson, and Gee (2004) assert:

Classroom work rarely has an impact outside of the classroom; its only real audience is the teacher. Game players, in contrast, develop reputations in online communities, cultivate audiences as writers through discussion forums, and occasionally even take up careers as professional gamers, traders of online commodities, or game modders and designers. The virtual worlds of games are poweful, in other words, because playing games means developing a set of effective social practices (p. 5).

I am a big advocate for incorporating “games” into my learning activities with my students. I have been very successful implementing various games/simulations in my classroom. Some of the games that I have used in my classroom are Jeoparady like activities, Driveofyourlife.org, vocabulary scavenger hunts, and have even recreated the entire game of “Sorry”.

From incorporating these games into my instruction, I have been extremely successful in teaching my students key concepts, vocabulary, and overall ideas about the world. Although we never want to rely on test results, I have found that scores are much higher in my classroom when I use these tools over not using them.

In a way, I like to think that I redesigned the vocabulary activity as a “game”. Rather than just having my students copy down vocabulary and study it, I put the words and definitions on flash cards (this was for a careers unit). I then created a corresponding worksheet that was the base of the scavenger hunt. The worksheet had clues, definitions, and/or vocabulary words. The way I ran the activity so the kids did not go crazy around the building and so they were supervised but still had free roam of what they were doing was I set up flash cards in the room and had every group work only in the room. Once everybody was done in the room, then we went out into the hallway. There were two clues that were nowhere near the classroom- one was at the gym and one was in the main office. I, of course, made sure that the PE teacher, the secretaries, and my principal and vice-principal were well aware of what was going on so they did not think that my students and I were being reckless. We have a strict set of school rules regarding behavior in the hallway and I told my students before we even began, if they got out of control and showed me that they could not be mature enough to handle this activity, I would stop it completely or they as a team would be disqualified.

I found this strategy to be most effective in my classroom because students were absorbing the information. There was no prize at the end other than a good grade. My students were fully engaged and motivated and that is why I love incorporting games in my classroom. I have not used Sorry yet in my middle school classroom, but I used it in my Culinary classes when I was teaching high school and that was SO rewarding. It took me FOREVER because I had to recreate the cards and the rules but when my students played it…..wow. I can’t even explain the feeling of how great it was.

Here is a picture of what I created with the SORRY! Game!

Sorry

 

In this week’s unit, I learned that there is more to games and gamification then just Jeopardy, Sorry, and other games. I must admit though, I am super excited for my Eggspert to come in ().

This week I explored the program Inklewriter (www.inklewriter.com). Inklewriter is all about interactive storytelling which I love. With this program, you are able to create your own stories, however, the way the story ends is a result of what the reader chooses. These options definitely bring creativity to the surface for the reader and in a way, tests the reader’s imagination. In a way, I compare Inklewriter to life, filled with choices and the choices we make we must take responsibility for.

I created a very basic story that I can potentially use for my 6th Grade Money Management unit. This is a great activity for students to use to create their own stories, testing their knowledge in whatever unit of mine that I would like them to use. Read my story here… https://writer.inklestudios.com/stories/gh54

If you take anything away from this post, I ask that you please watch this lengthy but FANTASTIC Google Tech Talk on Gamification. It gives great insight to what we are missing and what we really need in our classrooms.

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