Part 3: Learning about America
- Students learn through the process of playing the game. By playing a game, students may be able to understand a new concept or idea, take on a different perspective, or experiment with different options or variables. Have each student read through the directions of a card game; then, play the game in complete silence (if possible). After the first round, discuss what they understood in the rules of the game and its mechanics.
- Games provide a context for engaging practice. As a former GED teacher, I know students need a lot of practice to internalize important vocabulary and structures. However, for the practice to be meaningful, students must be engaged (and let’s be honest, countless workbook pages or textbook exercises are not always highly engaging!). Through lively games of role-play charades, spelling pyramid, or others, the students willingly use the vocabulary and structures, repeatedly gaining much-needed practice.
- Through games, students can learn a variety of important skills. There are countless skills that students can develop through game playing such as critical thinking skills, creativity, teamwork, and good sportsmanship. By playing word guessing games, I have seen the students’ ability to use circumlocution improve dramatically. I love to watch the students’ creativity during game sessions using common materials around them in communication.
- While playing games, students develop a variety of connections with the content and can form positive memories of learning. Some of my favorite teaching memories are from game times. The fun, silly or interesting moments tend to stand out in students’ memories, and they latch on to the vocabulary/structures they are studying. A positive emotional connection can facilitate learning. Furthermore, many games feature a variety of different stimuli; some students might remember the vocabulary words from acting them out, others remember reading the clues, and other students remember hearing classmates call out answers. Games can provide a variety of sensory experiences for students.
- Games grab students’ attention and actively engage them. I find that because students really enjoy playing games, it is a good way to focus their attention and actively immerse them in the learning experience. A game allows students to quickly engage and transition back to the content they were working on. After hours of state-mandated standardized tests, we find students are often tired of sitting and full of energy; an energetic game with lots of movement or mental stimulation may be just what they need.
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