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Making Gains with Learning Games

making gains using learning games

I believe that teachers should absolutely use games in the classroom! Games are an especially great way to engage students and hold their interest. Not only do they make learning fun, but they also help to reinforce concepts in a more interactive way. Indeed, games help to foster collaboration and communication between students. Additionally, they can be tailored to specific topics and skills, so that students are learning in a way that is both stimulating and effective.

Games Make Learning Fun

Games can certainly be a great way to make learning fun, engaging, and productive. They unquestionably help to break up monotonous lessons and create an entertaining classroom environment. To be sure, games promote collaboration, creativity, problem-solving, and critical thinking skills. After all, games can give students instant feedback, help them retain information better, and motivate them to stay interested in the subject while simultaneously helping to build a growth mindset.

student engagement with games

Things to Consider When Using Games in the Classroom

When using games in the classroom, it is important to consider the following:

  1. Age appropriateness: Be sure to choose games that are age-appropriate for your students, so that the content and activities are suitable for them.
  2. Learning objectives: Ensure that the game is aligned with your learning objectives and that the content is relevant to what you want your students to learn.
  3. Engagement: Make sure that the games are engaging, fun, and interactive so that students are motivated to participate.
  4. Time: Plan ahead and make sure that you have enough time to play the entire game.
  5. Technology requirements: Be sure to check the technology requirements for games and make sure you have the necessary resources for them.
  6. Rules: Establish clear rules and expectations before starting the games, so that all students are on the same page.
  7. Assessment: Consider the assessment opportunities that the games offer. How will you measure if the students have achieved their learning objectives?
  8. Follow-up: Make sure to have a review and follow-up activity after the games, so that students can discuss their learning and apply it to their lives.

Partner Games for Reading

Of course, there are a variety of fun partner games you can use to help improve reading skills! Here are a few ideas:

  1. Word Jumble: Divide your class into pairs. Give each pair a jumbled up word and have them race to see who can unscramble it first.
  2. Storytelling: Provide partners with a short story and have them act out the story together. This encourages reading comprehension and helps with understanding the text.
  3. Spoons with Phonics: Create a deck of cards that follow a specific phonics skill or spelling pattern. Add in a few plastic spoons. Students have to practice decoding the words quickly in this fast-paced game, increasing their word recognition and reading fluency skills.
  4. Sight Word Race: Give each pair a list of sight words and have them race to see who can read them all first. This is a great game for practicing word recognition.
  5. Reading Relay: Divide your class into teams. Give each team a chapter from a book and have them race to see who can finish it first. This is a great way to practice fluency.

Partner Games for Math

Likewise, partner games can also be a great way to make math more fun and engaging. Here are a few ideas for math:

  1. Math Fact War: Two players face off against each other and race to answer math facts in this game. The player with the most correct answers wins.
  2. Number Combinations: Two players take turns creating combinations of numbers that add up to a certain total. The player with the most correct combinations wins.
  3. Math Memory: Two players take turns flipping over cards that have a math equation or problem on one side and the answer on the other. The player with the most correct matches wins.
  4. Math Race: Two players race to solve a series of math problems. The player who solves the problems the fastest wins the game.

Concern: Students May Misbehave During Games

You may have Negative Nelly’s on your teaching team who think that the classroom should be an absolutely silent environment. That means, in their opinion, there are no games allowed! Please don’t get stuck in this mindset. It’s important to remember that if the kids aren’t talking and engaging in their work assignments, they are not learning. With this in mind, it is imperative that teachers design interesting lessons and learning activities. 

Structured Learning Environment for Successful Games

What I mean to say is your classroom should not be a quiet place. Kids are kids, after all. Moreover, you’re going to have kids that push boundaries no matter the task at hand. Misbehavior during partner games can be addressed several ways. As mentioned earlier, it’s important to set clear expectations and rules before the activity begins, and to make sure that all students are aware of and understand them. Furthermore, you should establish a clear consequence system. When students break the rules, they should be held accountable with logical consequences that follow. This is certainly true for any part of the school day, not just game play.

Strategies for Managing Behavior During Partner Games

Of course, making eye contact with students is a great way to redirect student behavior without saying anything at all. By the same token, if you are up and walking around as students play games, using proximity to redirect students is likewise effective. Subsequently, verbal reminders and positive reinforcement work well to encourage appropriate behavior. 

You may be working with a small group of students during reading groups or math groups while the other students are playing games. Even though the majority of your attention is focused on your teacher table, you should still be visually scanning the room looking and listening for potential issues. Nevertheless, giving quick verbal reinforcement or corrections should not take away from your small group instruction.

Important Reminders

If you have misbehavior that persists, try separating the students into different groups or offering a different, less desirable, learning activity. Whatever happens, remember to always get the parents on board. Above all, try to be understanding and patient, as misbehavior, even during partner games, can often be a sign of a student’s need for more guidance and support.

classroom rules
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Students Learn More When Playing Games

Ultimately, games are a great way to learn because they make learning fun and engaging. They also encourage teamwork, problem-solving, and creativity. Furthermore, games can help focus students’ attention and provide a stimulating environment for learning. All in all, research has shown that students who play educational games improve their learning outcomes and academic performance.

I’d love to hear how you incorporate games in your classroom! Drop a comment below or connect with me on social media! You can also subscribe to the TeacherMood email list to have other tips and tricks delivered right to your inbox along with exclusive freebies! 

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