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  • Planning for Learning through Games!
  • Motivation and Engagement.

The class assignment might me 20 pages a night, but that would be an unachievable challenge for the student. By mutual agreement, a more achievable goal can be set at 15, such that he is willing to apply effort because the goal seems in reach. He can keep a record of the pages read, and see on a bar graph or just from the increase in total pages read in a week, that he has reached his goal.

Even though the 15 pages is still not enough to meet the class requirement and reaching his goal will not mean getting an "A", he will have the intrinsic motivation of recognizing goal achievement. He's gotten to the next level of the video game. He may not be at level 10, but he's gone from level 3 to 4, and that will keep him "playing the game. An example of lowering the barrier, not the bar, is to scaffold students learning to calculate the avarage mean of a series of numbers. The differentiation for achievable challenge would be to make progress in learning the procedure of calculating the average of a group of numbers, but using numbers for which students have adequate foundational knowledge.

Some students can work with whole numbers while others work with decimals and fractions, depending on their specific background knowledge.

5 Advantages of Game-Based Learning

All students will learn the process of finding the average, so when the students working with whole numbers build their foundational knowledge of fractions and decimals, they will be able to apply the procedure they learned with whole numbers to finding the average of a series of decimal numbers without having to be taught that procedure separately from the rest of the class. One approach to demonstrating incremental progress in foundational knowledge is by using a type of rubric. My apologies here for oversimplifying and misidentifying the purpose of rubrics, which is not to serve as checklists based on the numbers of errors.

A rubric-like system can be used to provide the needed motivation through evidence of incremental progress by breaking "complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks," as Mark Twain put it, so students can see progress within the rubric section in which they choose to focus their effort. If a student does C level writing assignments due to limited understanding of many facets of the task such as grammar, punctuation, topic sentences, supporting evidence, spelling, and transitions, the task of building the skills in all those areas to get a higher grade on the next paper due in four weeks is not an achievable challenge.

However, if students see on a rubric-like checklist that they can move up from a 1 out of 5 to a 3 out of 5 in spelling if they drop down to two spelling errors per page, they can perceive that as an achievable challenge.

How to Teach Using Games

With encouragement and suggestions about how to check spelling, they will apply the effort. When it is time to return the next writing assignment, consider first meeting with the students working on specific rubric goals and showing them their rubric scoring before returning a formal grade. This will show them their incremental progress within the areas they focused their effort.

They will experience the dopamine-pleasure response and intrinsic motivation of achieving a challenge, even though their overall grades may be only minimally changed. The feedback demonstrating their incremental progress provides intrinsic reinforcement similar to the multiple progressive skill levels found in the most compelling video games.

The recognition of the progress from their efforts results in the same dopamine-pleasure response the brain experiences from game feedback that a challenge was achieved successfully. As in the computer games, this reward motivates the brain to seek that reward again, and sustains students' perseverance to the next progressive challenge.

The most frequent written-in response as opposed to responses chosen from among various options mentioned "handling different skill levels in a single classroom". The panel's conclusion was that flexible ability grouping, with students at similar levels of achievement, serves students without the flaws of tracking. Because of different math backgrounds, learning strengths, reading skills, and English language proficiency, students have varying levels of achievable challenge in different math topics, so flexible groupings should be designed so students can move easily between them, depending on their mastery of specific math topics.

Creating effort-to-progress graphs shows students their incremental goal progress in a concrete way to mimic the incremental progress feedback provided by getting to the next level on a computer game. The additional benefit of adding in the effort factor on the graph time spent or number of practices completed is to show them that their effort toward their goal results in progress. The prefrontal cortex PFC is where the brain develops the executive functions, such as the ability to recognize the effort to progress correlation and to resist immediate gratification to achieve long-term goals.

The PFC is the last part of the brain to mature, in a process that continues well into the 20s. What seems obvious to adults is not recognized as an effort to goal-progress correlation by young brains without explicit evidence. Students keep records and make or fill in templates of bar graphs of the time spent on or the number of practices each day or week depending on age or subject and include feedback from formative and summative feedback both credit and self-corrected quizzes.

The power of this visual model is that students can see that their level of success is under their control. A Department of Education report determined that students who seek to master an academic topic with mastery-oriented goals show better long-term academic development than do their peers whose main goals are to get good grades or outperform others, thus the value of including feedback other than formal grades and of metacognition.

Eventually, effort-progress graphs can be used to keep more detailed information based on metacognition, such as patterns about their best strategies for specific types of goals.

Why use games in the classroom?

Students can savor successes and be acknowledged without having to be embarrassed by low scores or the motivation focus of outperforming others because the measurements on the graph are of progress toward a goal, without a need to write the starting number. This means the first designation need just say, "starting place" and subsequent graphs are amount by which the student increased from that point. Two students who selected a goal of mastering different segments of the multiplication tables one worked on the 5s and the other on the 9s can each get the same amount of increase on their bar graphs based on progress.

Additional positive results occur when students journal, write letters for portfolios, or write letters to parents about their observations and positive feelings. They can also write versions of these letters for students who will be in your class the following year always a motivator for the recipient and a reinforcement of success for the writer. There are plenty of free Jeopardy! This helps make prep time for this game more manageable. If you play Jeopardy! This game is perfect for studying social studies, the arts, science, history, novels … the list goes on and on.

This game consists primarily of giving students simple math problems and a limited amount of time to use them. I use this daily with my elementary students and tutoring students. The whole idea is to get your students to understand these math problems so well that it becomes rote.

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For problems for a 3 rd grader, give them 5 minutes; a 4 th grader gets four minutes; a 5 th grader gets three minutes; and a 6 th grader gets one minute. This same idea can be applied to pronunciation of words. With two students, give one a timer and the other has words that they have to say correctly. The same time structure applies too. Scavenger hunts are a lot of fun, but they definitely take some planning to get set up.

How to Teach Using Game-Based Learning

The great thing is, they can be used for nearly every subject. I like to set up a scavenger hunt for when starting new social studies, science, or reading units. I go through the material beforehand and I create questions, fill-in-the-blank, pictures, dates, people — anything that I want my students to really know before we get into the unit.

And then I put them into small groups and they have to search the textbooks, encyclopedias, online, and around the classroom for the clues. Everyone does. Which is why it is so much fun to see your students get to shine when they create the games that are used in class. But, literally every game listed here could become a student made game.

Warm Up + Games + Wrap up - DEMO class - Teaching English tips - ESL tips

And, if you are worried about time or having it not being educational enough — make having your students make the game count as a formal assessment. Find more classic games that can be adapted for the classroom. What educational games do you use in your classroom? Share in the comments section! This article was written by Rosshalde Pak. She is an Education Entrepreneur based in Portland, Oregon. You can find more of her writings and projects at her blog, Education Shortlist.

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