Using Games to Enhance Math, Science and Vocabulary Lessons
Students come to class with baggage of their own. Playing games can help ease the tension, build camaraderie through light competition, increase energy levels and buy more time for more focused lesson work later in the hour.
Game based learning can also improve multi-tasking skills–many games require players to keep track of multiple elements at once like their health, weapons, ammunition and more.
Games that Test Knowledge
It’s challenging to hold the attention of a group of students for long periods, even when they’re well behaved and studious. A fun review game can change the focus, encourage teamwork and add a competitive element that can be motivating.
Games like Jeopardy, crossword Bingo, Pub Quiz and Charades offer multiple categories of questions that can cover most major subjects. They’re easy to set up in class and can be adapted for remote teaching on platforms such as Kahoot!
Pictionary and charades require that students engage in what psychologists call “elaborative rehearsal,” which is the cognitive process of connecting novel stimuli to existing knowledge. This depth of processing is important to help move a new concept from short-term memory to long-term retention. Adding the gamification aspect increases the energy and buy-in of these review games and makes them more effective formative assessments before an exam. Use an UnWheel of Fortune style game to tally points, assign teams and encourage collaboration and critical thinking among your students.
Games that Test Skills
Games that test skills may not have been designed specifically as testing games. However, most can be modified or adapted to act as either a simplified model of a system or allow testers to practice different testing skills or concepts.
For example, Azul is a board game that tests strategic thinking and concentration. Sudoku tests cognitive skills and memory. Trading games like Chinatown and Sidereal Confluence test negotiating and salesmanship skills. Programming games such as Javascrpt and Warrior JS can improve coding skills or even land you a job!
One of the fastest growing assessment tools in the industry is pymetrics, which uses 12 online games to assess over 90 cognitive and behavioural traits. It is possible to prepare for pymetrics by taking an online training course and practising the games beforehand. This will ensure that you are ready to take the assessment and get the best results. Also, you will not be confused by the instructions for the games as you will have already mastered them.
Games that Test Numeracy
Playing games that test numeracy provides students with a variety of ways to practice important math concepts. The games also help with a variety of other skills, including spatial reasoning, estimation and mastering basic math operations.
Depending on your students’ abilities, you can modify the difficulty level of these games to suit their needs. For example, students who struggle with addition might try to find two numbers that add up to 10. Kids who are more practiced at adding can look for three numbers that multiply together to equal a target number.
If you have a class set of iPads, students can work together to solve these questions. The team that answers all of the questions correctly wins. Another option is to divide your class into two teams and provide each with a sheet of addition or multiplication facts. Each student fills in one of the numbers on their sheet, signing their initials beside it to show they did so.
Games that Test Vocabulary
Games are great for assessing vocabulary knowledge and allowing students to practice using new words in a fun setting. They can also give teachers a chance to identify difficult words and provide additional instruction on word parts, roots, synonyms and antonyms during a whole-class vocabulary review.
One of the most popular vocabulary games involves pairing students and asking them to describe a word to each other. Students may need to provide a definition, an example of the word, or the spelling. The first player to guess correctly gets a point and the game continues with new players.
Another great game for assessing vocabulary is Pictionary. Divide students into pairs and have them stand in the center of the circle. Stick or pin a vocabulary picture on each student’s back. The teacher then reads a clue (e.g., spelling, pronunciation or definition) and the first pair of students to slap the board or desk gets their answer.