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Integrating games in teaching

MONDAY, JULY 06, 2015 12:17 PM

Today's generation of kids is growing up with games in their hands, from Wii to Nintendo DS. Instead of rejecting games in classrooms, teachers should consider embracing a little friendly competition among their students, from kindergarten to high school. Introducing games into the classroom has been considered a risky move in the past because some students may experience feelings of inferiority if they do not win the competition. However, by following a few simple tips, classroom competition can be fun and avoid negative impacts while taking advantage of the positive.

Team approach
Using a team approach to games is beneficial for several reasons. This gives students a chance to collaborate and learn to work together toward a common goal. It also gives students a larger chance of  experiencing a win since they will be competing against one or two other groups, instead of the whole class. 

Fun but inconsequential rewards
The point of having game time is that it's supposed to be a fun way to learn, so avoid any high stakes. One idea would be to have two different reward baskets. One could be full of more popular treats, like candy, that the winning team could choose from, and the other basket could contain fun pencils or other small prizes. This way, everyone has a sense of accomplishment and no one feels like they are missing out in the end.

End review
A lot of times, teachers will let students play a game, but will not review areas where students struggled. Leaving time at the end of the game to review problem areas is an effective way to hone in on aspects of the curriculum that students aren't understanding well. The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development suggests asking the students which questions were most difficult and why to generate discussion.

Ending with a review is also a useful way to key students into areas they need to study more. Use the game as a reminder to study the areas they struggled with because they will most likely be on the test.

Along with reminding students what they should study, games have other beneficial impacts. One study found that young boys often read above grade level when playing games, Edutopia reported. This can be attributed to an increased desire to engage with the reading material in the games versus standardized reading.