In December, last year I was honored to be named in Huffington Posts Top 12 Global Education Blogs of 2014. The bloggers on this list have been asked to contribute to Huffington Post’s Education blogs for 2015. This month we look to answer the following highly controversial question “What are the top games that can help students learn?” – here is my response:
Gaming, or more specifically gamification, is something that is very close to my heart.
I believe that student’s learn best when they are engaged in learning. They learn best when they are having fun. They learn best when they are comfortable, happy and feel safe. Giving student’s a voice in the way they learn is critical to the success of any teacher, school or program.
Image source: http://onlinelearning2013.blogspot.sg/
Before we begin, it is important to realize the difference between gamification and game-based learning. Gamification is introducing elements of gaming in a traditionally non-gaming context to make learning fun. Game-based learning is using games to achieve a defined set of learning outcomes. Both of these approaches have value and the information I am sharing today fall into these categories.
Don’t get me wrong, not all students are “gamers”, but I can guarantee all students in your classroom would LOVE to follow up learning with a game that summarizes their learning for that day (at the very least). Learning does not need to be by the book, make learning fun, engaging and unique to the learners in your classroom.
Here is a list of my top 5 games that help students’ learn:
- Minecraft Edu – Minecraft for education is amazing. It is a game where you dig (mine) and build (craft) different kinds of 3D blocks within a large world of varying terrains and habitats to explore. Kids love it and it has links to just about every curriculum area you can imagine. My students’ recently built a Minecraft model of our classroom to visualize options for changing our learning space.
- Matific – Matific is by far the best Mathematics based learning app / website I have seen. It is new and fresh and students are instantly engaged in mathematics learning through gamification. Matific takes a unique approach to teaching K to 6 mathematics using hands-on and interactive mini-games, called episodes. These immersive bite-sized apps for tablets and personal computers are based on a modular and progressive spiral learning system.
- ClassCraft – Classcraft is a role-playing game designed to increase collaboration and engagement in the classroom. Learning literally becomes an adventure. The visuals and setup of this game are dynamic, beautiful and a great fit for older students. The support that they provide is excellent as well – well worth a look!
- Kahoot – Kahoot is easy to use – that is one of its best features! Anyone can do it! Create, play and share fun learning games for any subject, for all ages, for free! As an educator, you can create personalized games that suit the learning needs of your students. You can also choose from millions of ready to play games or even adapt them. The games work on any device and students don’t require an account – literally 1-click gameplay!
- Scratch – Scratch is an amazing way to learn how to code. It has links with other external robotic tools and you can integrate its use into every curriculum area. With Scratch, you can program your own interactive stories, games, and animations — and share your creations with others in the online community. Scratch helps young people learn to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively — essential skills for life in the 21st century.
BONUS: Mystery Skype for global collaboration through game-based learning (not digital but definitely the best way I have ever found for Geography based learning). If you are not involved, get into it – it is amazing. Click here for some tips on how to get started and Click here to learn how I make it work in my classroom.
I would love to receive your feedback and the games that you use to engage students in learning.