If you love playing games in your classroom or if you are on the opposite spectrum and have no clue how to integrate games during class time, you came to the right place. I am going to tell you why you should play games in your classroom or continue to integrate games as part of your teaching practice. Games are a wonderfully tricky way to encourage students to memorize vocabulary. Students have fun while playing and before they know it BOOM! Vocabulary is engraved on their brains.
The goal of teaching a language is to get students communicating in that language. Our job as teachers is to make sure we give students the tools they need in order to be successful in the communication process. It is our responsibility to keep student motivated in that process. That is where games come into play (enjoy that pun?).
Games benefit students because they
- Banish boredom in the classroom
- Allow for repetition of terms
- Provide opportunity for quick absorption of many words
- Break up the monotony of the school day
Let’s face it, games provide a learning environment that is student-centered allowing for communication in the target language, discovery, problem-solving, engagement and analysis of their own knowledge in the learning process. Simply put games are FUN and EDUCATIONAL.
So how do you implement games in your classroom?
Be motivated and hype it up
If you are bored, unmotivated, or are simply uninterested in an activity your students will feed off that. They too will be turned-off with the activity. When beginning a game, hype it up. Use a bigger voice, bigger gestures, colorful language…however you explain rules make it enticing. The class tone is set by you the teacher. The entire class environment is feeding off of you. I often play the game myself to show them how fun it is. This isn’t always possible if I have to monitor. However, if it is possible, join in the fun.
Keep it on point
When choosing a game for the class make sure it is applicable to the unit. The reason we play these games is to provide the opportunity to review or use repetition of the vocabulary for memorization of terms. Keep vocabulary useful to what you want students to be learning. If you are teaching clothing, the game should revolve around terms used for clothing.
As students learn, they will inevitably make mistakes and that is OK. I can assure you missing a point in a game or getting the team sent back to zero because of not knowing the meaning of a sign will be a great learning opportunity. A student will never forget that word. How we handle the mistake as a teacher is important. Be encouraging and let students know its ok if they mess up, blunder, or completely bomb the task. Let them know it is no big deal. Through mistakes and failure is how we learn.
Provide learning opportunities
If you see common errors happening during game time, seize the teaching moment and correct the errors. After all, that is why we are playing games. Don’t let the students continue to make the error. Students will learn from each other and before you know it they will all be making the same mistake. Let’s say that you are in a game situation and the word is WOMAN. You continue to see students using the sign for MAN. This is a good chance to remind students about placement of feminine and masculine signs.
Vary the games played
If you only have one or two games in your repertoire, it’s time to shake things up and learn some new games to incorporate in your lessons. The student’s favorite game will become stale and dull if you continue to use it and nothing else. A game should elicit excitement when mentioned. You can use the same set of words in 2 – 3 different games so students get various stimuli. For example, you can play Win, Lose or Draw when learning words for buildings found around the school campus to draw in the visual learner and later use the same terms to play Baseball or Basketball to get the kinesthetic learners up and moving around.
Keep all students involved
Whatever games you choose to play try to pick the ones that involve all the students at one time. Often times we play elimination games where students are “out” if they don’t know the answer. If this is the case, try to revamp the game so those “out” have a way back in. This way students are always “on task” and not chatting with their neighbor who is also out of the game. Incorporate games that are small group or one on one competition so students are always active and learning. Remember your game should have a purpose to provide repetition of vocabulary to all students. Not just the high achieving ones.
Most of the time a game is reward enough and something students look forward to. But students like to know that they are victorious. Offer a small token that can symbolize a student’s bragging rights. Ask parents to donate small prizes like pencils or individually wrapped candy, provide a free homework pass for the victor, or the chance to sit anywhere they want for the day. You can even set up a winner’s circle with a special chair and snacks for the champion. Let them wear a crown! You can offer points to the winner but I try to avoid this practice. I want a student’s grade to reflect their work and what they can do. I want to try to avoid “padding” their grade. That is my personal opinion.
Whatever you choose to do for a reward, whoop it up and give the winner a sense of achievement!
I hope these ideas for using games in the classroom help you have some fun with your students. My next post will incorporate games you can play in the classroom. Stay tuned…
What are your thoughts about games in the classroom?