So I know it is Thursday….but my district blessed us with a snow day!  Therefore I felt compelled to sit on my couch, all nestled up and warm, and do some finding!

I absolutely love the idea of “gamifying” and adding play to the classroom. I think that adding play to the classroom gets students more engaged and excited about what they are learning. Playing motivates students and helps to bridge the equity gap that exists in every classroom. This week for my “findings” I decided to focus on the concept of “gamifying” the classroom. Below are a few links I found to articles and resources that might be helpful to those who are looking to add more play to their teaching.

1.) The Minecraft Cell: Biology Meets Game Based Learning – https://www.edutopia.org/blog/minecraft-cell-biology-meets-gbl-dan-bloom

  • This is an article posted on Edutopia all about how a 9th grade science teacher used Minecraft to enhance his biology lab. I love to see the various ways in which Minecraft can be used in the classroom and I think this article is a great example of how “gamifying” lessons can add to meaningful to student engagement.

2.) Made with Play: Game-Based Learning Resource – https://www.edutopia.org/made-with-play-game-based-learning-resources

  • This is a really cool article that gives a TON of resources about how to implement gaming meaningfully into the classroom. I especially loved the video in the middle of the article that addresses using gaming as an assessment tool. In the current state of education we are constantly assessing our students through paper and pencil assignments. I really like the idea of using a game to help understand and assess what my students know.

3.) 10 Specific Ideas to Gamifying Your Classroom – http://www.teachthought.com/pedagogy/how-to-gamify-your-classroom/

  • This article gives practical tips on how to make gaming in your classroom work. Many veteran teachers I’ve talked to like the notion of gamifying their classrooms, but are so focused on management and on task behavior that they end up taking too much control of the process. However, this article gives practical tips of how to make gaming work in the classroom that still allows students choice and freedom without management issues.

4.) Kahoot – https://getkahoot.com and https://kahoot.it

  • This is an awesome website that allows students to review material in a game-like format. Students log in to kahoot.it using a specific code provided to them by their teacher. Students can access the site via a laptop, iPad or any internet capable device. Students are asked questions that appear on the big screen (whiteboard, Smartboard etc) and they answer each question on their own device. Students are given points based on whether or not they got the answer correct as well as how fast they answered the question. While I am not crazy about the speed part of Kahoot because it goes against the idea if equity for all in the classroom, I do think that this can be a really easy way to add more interest and engagement to a review of material. I have even seen some teachers use Kahoot as a way to introduce new material, as a “hook” to engage students in a new concept. I like this idea a bit more for Kahoot because it puts all students on the same playing field and levels out equity because the material is new to all students.

5.) Meme-

  • So this doesn’screen-shot-2017-02-09-at-11-08-12-amt have to do with “gamifying” the classroom per say, but I promise it does have a connection! I was looking through Jamie Weiss’s blog and I came across an Instagram account she mentioned (@teachermisery). While I was looking for the video about testing that Jamie mentioned, I came across this meme that struck me on so many levels as a teacher and made me think a lot about equity.  While I definitely understand the frustration from which this meme is derived, it also frustrates me as an educator when I think about equity. While part of me agrees with the meme, that students are expected to rise to the challenge and meet the rigor in which we are expected to teach, when we think about equity, how is this fair? I understand that there are students who are not working to their potential everyday in every classroom across America and that can be extremely frustrating for a teacher. We know the potential of the students in our room, now how do we get that potential out of each of our students? However I also think about increasing rigor and how that disproportionally affects those students for whom we are trying to make the classroom an equitable place. Students who come in behind due to their background or their life outside of school, how does increasing the rigor help them when they are struggling to simply meet the current standards? And…here’s the connection to this week! This all leads me back to the idea of adding more play to the classroom. When students are more engaged and learning in their own ways by playing and experiencing, rigor can be increased. When students are motivated by the task and find value in the work, rigor can be increased. Just arbitrarily increasing rigor without the buy-in from students does nothing more than check a box on a form for PDE. If we truly want to challenge our students, we need to engage them more in play and hands on learning and the rigor will soon follow.
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