Some teachers might bristle at the idea of adding more screen-based games to the lives of children, arguing that kids today already spend too much time with their PlayStation, Xbox, Switch, or iPad. But the movement towards gamification in education has been steadily gathering steam for years, and both research and anecdotal evidence support the idea that games in the classroom can be an effective way to improve student learning and achievement.
One of the most challenging aspects of teaching is getting kids to engage. Many students find traditional classroom exercises dull and don’t feel motivated by grades. That means teachers are constantly trying to find unique ways to bring lessons to life and make their students care about the material and interested in learning.
Adding games to the educational experience is one of the most obvious ways to do that. Kids love games. They enjoy the process of playing them, they like competition, and they revel in winning. Currently, screen-based games are particularly popular with kids, so it would make sense for teachers to utilize technology to bring games into the classroom.
Interactive whiteboard games promote learning
As interactive whiteboards and panels (like Promethean’s ActivPanel Titanium interactive display) become ubiquitous in classrooms throughout the world, interactive whiteboard games are being used more and more to get students to engage with all sorts of subject material and curricula. Teachers have access to a wide variety of options, including 3-D shapes interactive whiteboard games, alphabetical order interactive whiteboard games, and interactive whiteboard phonics games, to name just a few.
Promethean’s ActivPanel has ActivInspire lesson delivery software built into the board, which offers a plethora of gamification ideas for teachers. For example, teachers can access premade templates to utilize matching, flash card, crossword, and memory games. The spinner is a way to gamify the process of calling on students to come to the board, present their work, or answer a question. The timer is also a handy way to add excitement to the classroom experience, simply by asking students to answer before time is up or by having groups of students race to see who can come up with a solution to a problem first.
Teachers and students can discover a whole host of interactive whiteboard games and resources online. For example, Sudoku can help teach number recognition and logic; Hangman allows kids to practice spelling, and Ruzzle is a good way to expand vocabulary. There are many sites that specialize in games for certain subjects, such as Mathsframe, Games to learn English, and Teaching History. And many well-known educational organizations offer interactive games in different subject areas, such as Scholastic, PBS, and the National Education Association.
Explore new ways to implement games in education
Keep in mind, there is no one right way to gamify a classroom. Some teachers like to set up a reward system wherein individual students or groups of students earn points or badges when a game is won, or a task is completed. However, some experts caution that students might become too motivated by rewards and less interested in the actual process of learning. They say that kids need to have intrinsic motivation, which is when they enjoy learning for the sake of learning, rather than extrinsic motivation, which is based on rewards. One way to avoid this is to utilize rewards that are related to the learning process, such as taking students on an educational field trip rather than hosting a pizza party.
Another option is to set up a point or reward system that mimics the progressive levels that are so popular with digital games. For example, teachers can track their students’ earned points over multiple classes and a longer period of time, allowing them to reach critical milestones and leveling up as they go. Once they reach a new level, they could receive a specific badge or get some type of reward.
The important thing to remember is that games should not be seen as a frivolous addition to a lesson plan but rather as an integral part of the learning process. When fun, engaging, challenging games are used in the classroom, whether through the use of an interactive whiteboard, individual handheld devices, or laptop computers, they can have a significant effect on students’ level of engagement and help increase their ability to grasp new concepts and achieve academically.