Raising Classroom Engagement and Learning via Game Play and Creative Instruction
Learning through playing games and other fun activities, rather than reading books and listening to lectures, is a welcome change of pace for many students.
Incorporating music into lesson plans can be a good way to learn creatively. Many types of music work well, although I caution you to think twice before teaching with rap and R’n’B music. Aside from music-related activities, many of my students enjoyed interactive games that pitted teams against one another.
One example of such a game involves writing various English vocabulary words from different parts of speech, appropriate to the comprehension level of the students, on small pieces of paper and placing these face down on a desk. The class is split into teams and one person from each time will pick up a word, read it, and then describe it via gestures or descriptive words to team mates. Upon successfully guessing the word, the next student in the group repeats the process. The team with the most words guessed correctly in the allotted time wins a prize, or the simple satisfaction of winning over other classmates.
This game is a great opportunity to review words the students did describe and guess successfully and ensure comprehension. It also enables the teacher to review and further explain the vocabulary words students didn’t guess correctly, or passed over. The thrill of racing the clock and the other team proved to be wildly exhilarating and exciting for my students. In fact, they enjoyed this game so much that they requested to play it again in the next lesson – teaching success!
Another great way to build vocabulary focused on a particular subject area is through drawing. I worked with a group of engineering-focused students who used their building and visualization skills to draw many of the objects they were creating on the whiteboard. We then, step by step, described the shapes, colors, materials, processes and objectives involved in building these objects. From an underwater oyster collection device to a specialized robot, we covered many different topics under the same over-arching subject area. This helped students who weren’t directly involved with one topic to still apply the subject matter concepts to their learning. The exercise helped to stretch students’ thinking and build topical vocabulary, which would prove to be beneficial
for their future studies and careers.