Games in the Classroom In the classroom, games can be a very
In the classroom, games can be a very useful and valuable resource. A teacher with a good mental list of games can make even the blandest information interesting. Games warm-up a class, rev-up a class, give an opportunity to change the mood of the class, or give the students a good send off so they leave excited about the class (Ruyter, 2000). Games can be used during any part of class, any stage of the learning process, and with any age group or level. Games can be used to get the students interested in a topic, to introduce a topic, to teach a topic (logic games are great for this stage), to review and practice, even to test the students (Myerhoff, 2001;Ruyter,2000)! Games are not limited to vocabulary and spelling. Games can be used during reading, testing (lowers testing anxiety), fluency, grammar, structure, and critical thinking (Ruyter, 2000). Games are good for developing and keeping teacher and student rapport and keep the students excited about what they are learning (Quinn, 1998). With all of these applications, it is very clear that games are a very important part of the classroom. And the best part is that developing games is fun and easy for the teacher. Just remember to be flexible and creative, anything can be a game!
Making the perfect game All games should use the relevant material and legitimately exercise language skills (Quinn, 1998). Or it can be seen as a waste of valuable time. Also, there are some other very important elements of a good game. Give a chance of risk and luck-so if they are down they still feel like they can get up, or if they are up they could loose it all (Ruyter, 2000). It evens the playing field; so if one team is stronger than the other, it still could go either way. Keep the students active, either moving or aware of a large 'field'. This way they have a chance to move around (not just sit in their seats all class'and act up) and they are engaged (Meyerhoff, 2001).
Some examples of this perfect mix for a game would be: 'Bulls eye games (darts, balls, sticky ball) where you have a mix of positive and negative points. 'Writing games (spelling, sentences, verb tenses, etc.) where you have to work to get the marker. You can throw/bowl a ball to knock over a marker before you can write. 'When the students answer a question right, they pick a poker card (without looking!). Red cards are positive, black are negative. Or red are a point for team 1, black are for team 2 (so a person on team 1 can give a point to team 2). 'Using board games. The student has to answer a question or produce some language before rolling dice or moving up. Board games have a great balance of risk, luck, and tactic.
Maintaining control during games Games are a very fun valuable part of the classroom. They are great for learning, but maintaining control can be an issue. When playing games, a teacher can keep these things in mind. Keep a time limit on the game, even if you don't tell the students (Quinn, 1998). When it gets close to the time limit and the game is not over, re-set the points, 'Ok, now instead of 5 points for this, it is now 50 points!' It will get the students excited and end the game quickly. Also, if can be helpful to make a point limit: the first team to get to 10 wins. It is also extremely important to make sure that the students know that classroom rules still apply during game time (Quinn, 1998). You still can not shout, you can not say mean things, and you can not cheat. Let them know that a game is a privilege, not a right. They are getting to play because they are well behaved, but if they start to misbehave the game is over--no argument. Using this information and a little creativity, any teacher can use games to make the classroom a fun, engaging, and rewarding environment.
Meyerhoff, M. K.(2001). Bright Start Activities to Develop Your Child's Potential. Lincolnwood, IL: Publications International, Ltd.
Quinn, K. (1998) Teachers Manual. Kaohsiung: Schoolhouse Publishing
Ruyter, A. (2000)100 Games and Activities for English Teachers. Kaohsiung: Schoolhouse Publishing