Using games to engage students

By J. Cole

I have been trying to use games to engage the students more via my own lessons, sharing with other colleagues and also in the LDD Moodle pages.

Today I allowed students to play on their BYOD  http://freerice.com/#/english-vocabulary/1449

As a class, in ten minutes of play we donated over 14,000 grains of rice. Students enjoyed calculating their combined scores and estimating how many meals they had collectively generated. I think they enjoyed this game as it carried some real value- each correct answer allows for ten grains of rice to be donated via the World Food Programme. It made me realise that the Design Quality of ‘Authenticity’ is an engaging tool and is worth considering when planning lessons.

I have been trialling setting games as homework for students for one of their two homeworks a week. I link to the games via my class Moodle page so I can monitor if, who and when someone accesses these links and then get students to have their parents sign their planner if they play for the minimum set play time. I then give a reward stamp if they show me their signed planner- three stamps = a merit. I’ve noticed an increase in homework ‘completion’. Also students are also frequently showing me that they have played for longer than the time allocated. To me, this is an early sign of their engagement.

I have been trying to engage the parents of some of the LDD students that I work with. Some of my students need to improve their vocabulary, multiplication, understanding of grammar etc…I have sent emails to the parents that I am regularly in contact with; sharing the games with them directly so that they can play with their child at home. These have been popular so far. Students are much more likely to engage with ‘extra work’ on their literacy through a game than through a text book. Interestingly, a common concern from parents is that they believe their children are not being sociable when they spend hours playing games at the weekends. I have been able to explain to parents that for some students they are actually in their ‘third place’ and are ‘meeting’ their friends virtually.

I’ve shared with some other colleagues in the English department  via mini INSET on how I have been using QR codes in my lessons and met with the librarian of the LMC who was also interested in ways of using technology. We talked about making library displays more interactive with QR code links to author websites, review sites and other sources. We will trial using them with some classes either on BYOD or the school set of iPads. I have also been using QR codes in my own classroom, office and special event wall displays, so that students can use them for extension activities.

I helped the teachers in the English dept by adding a literacy games section to their Moodle pages for Year 7 and 8 classes with the following games so far:

ABCYA http://www.abcya.com/fifth_grade_computers.htm#letters-cat (Free)

KS3 BBC Bitesize Games http://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/ks3/games/ (Free)

Spelling City http://www.spellingcity.com/ (Needs subscription which they can choose if they wish)

Grammaropolis http://www.grammaropolis.com/ (Needs subscription which they can choose if they wish, there is a demo game on nouns)

Free Rice Vocabulary http://freerice.com/#/english-vocabulary/1528 (Free)

Vocabulary Games British Council http://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/vocabulary-games (Free)

The LDD dept have two main Moodle pages- Aiming High for Gifted and Talented students and Learning Hub for all students. TK and I have been adding more game elements to both pages to engage students and these are popular. We also have included virtual online tours of museums and galleries for students to explore at home. We have updated our Moodle pages to ‘tabs’ which works much better when there is a lot of visual content in a section. We have also included a little ‘Graduate Profile Qualities’ section to each tab so that students can see how they are meeting aspects of the GP through the resources. The Duolingo App is proving popular for languages- its a free language app where students can play and improve their skills in many different languages. This is a useful tool to share with parents who want to help their child at home with languages too.

My next steps are trying to move past the ‘augmentation’ side of the SAMR model in how I am using and promoting technology into moving more towards ‘modification’ and ‘redefinition’. I think that Aurasma has the potential to do that. I am having to rely on the school iPads to do this as my own iPad won’t let me download the Aurasma app.

 

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