Time to Play!

Let’s be honest.  Games are super fun.  I like them.  I’m sure you like them too, reader.  But when played in the classroom, sometimes, most of the time, they don’t look like ‘conventional teaching’.

And that is a good thing.

As most of the readings on gamification state, using games in education is not a novelty.  Educators all over the world have been using educational games for decades in order to engage their students.  I remember when I used to teach English to adults back in the start of my career, the one thing that would get my class going at at 8pm was a quick language game.  There was this competitive streak, innate to all human beings, to participate, learn quickly and beat the other opponent/team.  It was awesome.  And whether I did it for a short time at the beginning to get everyone going or as a formative assessment to check how much they  had acquired, everyone had fun and that was my main goal.

Enter 21st century technology.  Back then, the only technology I used for gaming was flyswatters on a whiteboard, where students had to swat the past participle of an irregular verb I called out… I’m literally laughing out loud as I remember how awesome it was 🙂

Gaming in classrooms, especially one-to-one environments, cannot escape the use of gaming for learning.  There is so much out there that engages students of all ages!  It also allows students to acquire skills that make them feel successful.  For instance, an ELL playing PopWords against an opponent in his class or anywhere else in the world, doesn’t have to worry about making mistakes with a word they don’t know.  Rather they get to explore the different ways they can form words, and when they form a word they don’t know, they quickly learn it in order to use it in the future and become ‘better’ at playing the game.  It’s a win, win situation.

Although this might be a very simple way of looking at gamification for education as I know there are all sorts of games out there that reinforce all kinds of learning in all subjects, I think the most important aspect of gaming is the engagement of our learners.  If a game can present students with situations where they have to think in different ways, see things from different perspectives, use diverse problem-solving skills and challenge themselves to learn new things, I can certainly see the relevance, or even importance of gaming in any classroom.



iShare on Behalf of Brandon Little

My colleague and friend Brandon Little (G4 Teacher, 1:1 facilitator, Reading & Writing Workshop expert), wrote this email to the team today.  I asked if I could share it on my COETAIL site since it is pure, pure genius, an ‘Aha’ moment for many on our staff.  Here is his message, verbatim:

Dear Team,

In the last two months we’ve completely changed the communication paradigm for children. No longer does the old axiom, “Children should be seen, and not heard”, apply. If anything the new axiom for our students is, “Children can be heard, without being seen.”

In the last two months we’ve almost tripled the modes of communication for our learners. On top of individual/small/whole group personalized communication in the classroom and access to email the students now have Message (on iPad), their WordPress blog, and Edmodo accounts. Each of these tools have a mostly unique purpose and mostly unique method for use.

This development has led me to create a chart addressing the different tools they have access to for communicating and reflecting on their learning in and out of school. Mick and talked about having an interactive session in the coming weeks when teachers and students can brainstorm and agree upon the most effective ways and most effective times to use email, messages, wordpress, and edmodo. What we can show them is what a complete and appropriate message looks like. An exemplar, if you will.

Here’s the chart:

I can’t tell you how proud I am to not just share this resource but also of the quality of teachers I get to collaborate with every day.  Thank you Brandon!