Something I have always felt passionate about was that school needs to be a safe, fun place for the best learning to happen. I didn't think about sitting around playing random games with my students, but finding purposeful games that taught focused and specific concepts for my students to play. I knew that as a student I loved to learn through gaming, and in my own teaching career I've seen how gamification really reaches more students - specifically those boys that don't always like coming to school. So it has been a goal of mine to infuse my teaching with effective practice of the standards through games. In my earlier days, I made my own games. Partner games that were printed on paper and shared with students was a huge hit. Then, as I continued my own education and learned more skills, I discovered the world of digital gaming. The more I experimented, the more hooked I became. It was even better that with some games and sites, I was able to keep data on my students and their progress and growth. I became obsessive in finding new things to engage my students. I enjoyed this week of class because I was able to explore even more sites that I wasn't already aware of. I loved the articles I found which inspired me even more.
In an article titled "New Research Proves Game-Based Learning Works—Here’s Why That Matters" I read about what I already knew to be true from my own classroom experience, that using the game-based approach really engages students and actually works. When a game is focused around teaching a specific standard, students are given the extra practice that teachers desperately try to put into their lessons, and in many cases, students ASK to play more. This article cites a study done with over a thousand students and 13 teachers. The teachers reported a "dramatic increase in student engagement among students who participated in the game study."
Ultimately, we need more studies done to continue proving these effects, and the authors encourage teachers to be willing to participate in studies like this. The article was hosted by Legends of Learning and the games in the study were from the site. I registered for my free account and experimented with several of their science-themed games.
In my opinion and experience, what learning all comes down to is ENGAGEMENT. If a teacher can effectively plan a lesson that engages students in gaining or finding information, and plan practice activities that engage all types of learners, then students will learn more. Sometimes it's hard for teachers to figure out how to do this. A simple experiment would be to try adding more game-based opportunities into the day.
My favorite game-based sites:
In closing, one issue that I have battled myself and see in the future is the fixed mindset of many teachers who like teaching in what is beginning to be called the "old-school" way - or the paper/pencil/textbook way. They don't want anything to do with more technology in teh classroom, they don't even want to try. The truth is, the students of today are changing. They interact with ipads or smart phones on a daily basis at home. Even TVs of today are "smart" TVs and do things much more sophisticated. Their brains are more stimulated more often with these screens. While NOT arguing that this is the sole and only best way to teach, I know that without some form of stimulation or engagement that actually transfers to the students of today, learning will halt. Students will become bored and hate school. If a student doesn't want to come to school, they won't learn while they are there. Digital gaming, along with any form of enhanced engagement, is the real key to better learning.
New Research Proves Game-Based Learning Works—Here’s Why That Matters – EdSurge News. (2017, March 6). Retrieved October 23, 2017, from https://www.edsurge.com/news/2017-03-06-new-research-proves-game-based-learning-works-here-s-why-that-matters