Game-Based Learning Examples From The Classroom
by Ryan L. Schaaf
Game-based learning is, in short, learning through games. Using games in the classroom is an exciting proposition for educators that are interested in placing their pupils in the center of their own learning.
After all, it specifically takes teachers out of their traditional role as the center of the classroom and the source of all classroom knowledge. Whether it teaches new content or reviews previously learned information, game play provides a fun and engaging strategy for educators to incorporate into instructional practices.
Game-based integration strategies vary depending on the educator’s philosophy of teaching, the unique abilities of the learners involved, the needs of the instructional program, and available resources. Some new practitioners of game-based learning may have difficulty conceptualizing how games are used during instruction.
As a teacher of teachers, I asked some of my colleagues to share their experiences with incorporating games or gaming platforms into instruction and reflecting upon the outcomes.
Example Of Game-Based Learning #1: Gaming In Government
Rebecca Koza is a 4th grade educator in The Arts Based School in North Carolina. Her school is committed to active and creative scholarly exploration that engages students, their family/community and all school personnel in the learning experience. Below, Rebecca shares her experiences integrating a game-based Social Studies unit.
“My students are active learners who thrive during experiential learning. I facilitate classroom experiences for students that invigorate and enrich our learning goals. To accomplish this, I utilize arts-integrated lessons, technology infusion, cooperative learning, inquiry-based instruction, and problem-based learning to drive student exploration.
“To meet the needs of all diverse learners, teaching strategies need to be just as varied. To meet the needs of all diverse learners, teaching strategies need to be just as varied. I have integrated digital gaming to serve as skill practice in classroom stations, to assess student learning, to provide hands-on experience of science concepts, and most recently to intertwine authenticity into our U.S. government unit.”
Rebecca goes on to describe Gaming through Government as a game-based learning unit. Students were presented with the introduction:
“Your mission shall you choose it is to climb the ranks of a political career. Your ultimate goal is to become president of the United States. In order to be successful in a career in politics, you must be knowledgeable about the organization of the United States government, important documents of the United States Government, and rights and responsibilities of citizens.”
Throughout the Gaming though Government, students earned points by playing digital games and answering questions. Students earned points based on scores of digital games and from written reflections that related the digital gaming experience to social studies content. The points were then recorded on their While Playing Guide.
In order to assess learning in multiple modes, students also demonstrated their understanding by completing a quizizz that was aligned to the learning goals of each level. By passing levels, students increased their rank from an intern to a state representative, then on to a governor, vice president, and eventually the president. Perception data and achievement both support that the digital game within a gamified learning experience was very effective and fun.
Most importantly, students found the learning experience to be memorable. On an end of year perception survey, a student remarked that Gaming through Government was their favorite social studies concept of the entire school year, “because I loved how you used things that kids love for learning.”
To read more about Rebecca’s results, please visit here for more detail.
Example Of Game-Based Learning #2: Collaborative Gaming
Charlie Clausner is a 5th grade teacher on the Big Island of Hawaii. He has 20 students in his homeroom and they are absolute technology lovers. “I teach in a public K-12 school at Kau High School and Pahala Elementary. We recently played the online game, Slither.io.
This multiplayer game allows players to compete to build the largest snake. I felt that this end goal would be a great way to build teamwork, ingenuity, and communication in my students. Therefore, we all logged on simultaneously with the sole goal of working together to propel one classmate into the top ten.
This objective was quite different from our normal Math, English, Science, and Social Studies standards. However, my students were up for a brain break challenge.”
In the end, Charlie’s class was very successful as they worked together using communication and team building skills to catapult TWO students into the top ten.
By leveraging this technological platform, Charlie’s students were able to problem-solve and sacrifice in order to complete a shared objective.
Example Of Game-Based Learning #3: Assessing With Kahoot
Over the past decade, Jack has taught in low-income schools in Asia and North America. He used the popular tool Kahoot to create formative assessments or review games.
Kahoot is a quiz game where teachers can write multiple choice questions and Kahoot will track the points of everyone in the class and export the data to a spreadsheet for analysis. Jack states, “I use Kahoot mostly to review instruction that occurred during the week. Students often excitedly enter the classroom and ask, “Do we get to play Kahoot today?” and even request that I text a link for the quiz to their parents, so they can play at home.”
Jack also helps his students practice leadership and collaborative skills. “While playing Kahoot in groups, I have students practice being leaders. The group leader must provide the final answer selection for each question. However, he or she must listen to their teammates to give evidence-based advice on which answer is best.”
Jack circulates around the learning environment to listen in on their conversations and coaches students on how to have evidence-based discussions. “When I see common misunderstandings, I pause the game and re-teach to eliminate the misunderstanding. Using this routine, I saw a 10% increase in average student scores.”
In summary, game-based learning is quite a versatile strategy: three different teachers, three different instructional settings, and three different integration practices. In each situation, there is evidence of student-centered learning, formative assessment, and teacher reflection.
What game-based learning games and strategies have you used before? Please share in the comments.