Reflection: Adjustments to Practice Classification Gameshow! - Section 4: The Classroom Flow: Checking In, Wrapping Up

 

I will be honest here and say I don't frequently use competitive games in my classes.  In my early years as a teacher, I had a hard time managing the competitive spirit of the teams so that the focus stayed on the content rather than on minor infringements of rules.  I often wound up feeling like an NBA referee reviewing possible fouls/flops rather than a teacher listening for learning gaps and encouraging students to answer questions from memory or with their partners.  When I added snack incentives, collaborative teams quickly turned to scapegoating and we could leave with a less than warm and fuzzy feeling about the entire experience.  Even when students did have a good time, I was exhausted.

I have started to put games back into our work in part because students love them! Our arcade games activity in our scientific method/engineering design unit was a great way to introduce games the way I wanted them to be viewed in our class.  Games are a type of play and students gravitate to that engaging activity.  I also felt that with our intense focus on collaboration and discussion norms and protocols that my students were now in a better place to regulate and focus on the actual purpose of the game itself, in this case, the opportunity to self-assess and challenge themselves on a large amount of detailed scientific material. I asked my students to write a personal reflections paragraph at the end of this unit and one student commented directly about this activity in a way that makes me even more likely to continue to expand my use of games for learning and review in class next year. 

I made this game work for me as a teacher by using photos and diagrams rather than constructing complicated questions, which can often be the source of student frustration when they feel questions have been worded in a complicated or confusing way.  The pictures are immediate, the colors are stimulating and engaging, and because of the team work we have done consistently all year, the flow of the teams and the connection between game time points and the academic content benefits of the game activity balance each other in a way that is more rewarding for both me and my students. 

  Adjustments to Practice: Students, Cooperative Games, and Learning
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Classification Gameshow!

Unit 9: Unit 9: Energy, Ecology, & Classification
Lesson 6 of 7

Objective: SWBAT to identify organisms in classification categories by name, image, and characteristics.

Big Idea: Use a fun and competitive game format to get your students talking about classification and comparing organisms across each classification group!

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