Coding in elementary school

Gameplay in the classroom is no longer for mere fun, as it is now more interactive than books or movies. Although games are not an alternative to conventional teaching, they can transform the classroom into a more creative and collaborative environment. Gaming provides enjoyment, stimulates creative thinking, and promotes teamwork and social interactions during learning.

While it is a fact that gaming is beneficial to education, many educators still struggle with integrating gameplay into lessons. And if poorly introduced to the class, students may be slow to reap its benefits. A holistic approach where students are encouraged to think differently, confidently within a gaming framework is more practical and helpful.

Hence, it is imperative to outline how (the process and method) to tailor gameplay for effective classroom learning.

1. Identify the purpose of the game

The best way to use gameplay to enhance classroom learning is by determining its purpose. The “why” of a game will help you decide if it correlates with the topic or subject in question. Do you want to use the game for intervention or enrichment purposes? If a student experiences difficulty understanding school work, you may consider using a game to address his/her sloppy areas.

On the other hand, games for enrichment purposes help students gain mastery and challenge them to explore new ways to process different problems. The need for the game determines its use in the classroom to avoid spending time on frivolities.

2. Test the game and ascertain its value

Gameplay that doesn’t support learning goals can never enhance learning. Testing the game involves playing it yourself, ensuring it aligns with the learning goals and objectives. You have to be assertive about the quality of content your students consume. Is the game age-appropriate? Can students navigate easily? Will students enjoy this game? Does the game have different learning levels? These are questions to ask yourself while testing the game.

It is also necessary to check for a teacher control option. Ideally, gameplay for students should have teacher control, so teachers can control and adjust settings for individual students when necessary.

3. Involve parents

Opening the door to parent participation is one of the active propellers of student success. Inform parents or guardians of the games students engage in and their inherent benefits. This will help them understand the educational value of games and, in turn, engage their child(ren) while at home.

Communicating these benefits and the game structure to parents smoothens the implementation process and expressly alleviates concerns about the activities their child(ren) engages in while in school.

Gameplay in the classroom
An educator moderating gameplay

4. Dedicate time to consistent in-class gameplay

Random gaming may not allow students to reach learning goals as effectively as consistent, scheduled gameplay. Make time for game-based activities by including gameplay as a particular activity in your lesson plan, not an afterthought.

Use games as an entry and exit ticket, capturing students’ attention to the main lesson and allowing students to reflect while ending the class, respectively. Alternatively, students can focus more on non-digital games, such as board games with educational value. Thus, making it easier to use gameplay to enhance learning in the classroom.

5. Assess progress

One way to enhance learning is by assessment. Assessing the performance/progress of your students will help you better structure your lesson plans to accommodate all. Collecting data from the games you implement can help you to informally ascertain students’ trouble areas and know how best to proffer solutions. Data collection may vary depending on the purpose and nature of the game in question.

However, most educational games have in-game reports, displaying every student’s performance to teachers. You can encourage students to own their progress via self-reporting when playing physical games. You can also create a Google spreadsheet for each student and ask them to provide updates periodically. All these will help you tweak lessons, address trouble areas and build on new knowledge.

6. Encourage peer-learning

Gameplay increases students’ social skills, such as teamwork. This is another way to enhance learning in the classroom. Some students learn faster when paired with others, especially low-performing students. But with gameplay, they can blend in and learn faster.

Games played in the classroom should require the participation of every student in some way. You should not have a situation where one student represents a group every time. If the game does not involve all the students, it is best not to play it. This is to ensure that every student has an equal chance at learning.

Final words

Apart from enhancing learning in the classroom, gameplay helps players develop problem-solving, communication, perseverance, strategic planning, information processing, and adaptability skills.

Games are modern-day tools for teaching, learning, and assessment. And if educators and parents can take advantage of this trend, education would become an epic journey for young children.


How to use Gameplay to Enhance Classroom Learning

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