It has taken a while for me to find the time (and inspiration) to write my next blog on some revision strategies based on game play, but here it is. Firstly, I think it is important to recognise that skills based subjects cannot necessarily rely on content based games to help students make progress; for example, playing a Kahoot quiz will not immediately lead my students to write better poetry analysis; however, it can be fantastic for revising and improving subject knowledge/terminology that can in turn lead to a greater level of understanding and or confidence. Aside from that, of course, playing games can be fun and can help encourage all students to engage in revision more eagerly.
This is a re-blog post originally posted by Jade Scott and published with kind permission.
The original post can be found here.
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Here are just a few of the things I have tried:
Heads up style team challenge – The official ‘Heads up’ game has risen in popularity lately and has offered our English department hours of light hearted lunchtime fun- so when I discovered the ‘Card Creator‘ app that would allow me to create my own cards, I knew some good fun and learning was to be had. The game allows you to create as many categories as you like and within each you can add as many individual characters/words/terms as you like. I created one for grammatical terms, literary terms, characters from OMaM as well as poetic devices. I split my class into table teams and had one student hold up the iPad whilst the rest of their team coached them to the answer- a league table was created on the whiteboard and the team gained a point for each correct answer- the team with the most points won. I found this really interesting and a great way to revise as all students participated, even if it was only listening to their classmates shouting out information. In addition, I could see how confident students were in describing the terms or characters and how well the person with the iPad knew their stuff in order to understand/guess what their team mates were telling them. The fast pace and competitive nature created a great buzz that meant students were desperate to know the terms in order to win the points. You could do this without the iPad, you would just need to make a stack of cards with the terms on to use instead.
Articulate – After the success of the ‘Heads up’ style revision, I thought about how I could develop this to get students to revise a range of subjects in the same lesson and (after playing it lots over the festive season) arrived at Articulate, or at least my own take on it. I created this board as the official Articulate board has the category names printed on it and I only wanted some features of the game. I left the board blank so that I can adapt the categories to the class using it. I then made a selection of cards specific to that class; for example: my Year 11s had the categories of Of Mice and Men, Woman in Black, Poetry and Grammar. Things I included on the cards were characters, settings, quotations, terms, contextual links etc these did take a little time to make but once you have the set they can be re-used again and again. I gave each table a Lego mini figure as their token to mark their place on the board; each student had to take a turn at reading and the same one minute timer was used. This was a great lesson and we managed to recap/recall loads of topics all in one- plus it was great fun.
Quiz, Quiz, Trade- This is my favourite of the Kagan theories- I was lucky enough for somebody to have shared this with my cohort during a training session in my PGCE year and I have used it every year since. In essence, you need a set of cards for the topic you want your students to revise e.g. descriptive writing techniques. The card poses a question like “What is a simile?” underneath is the answer and a stretcher question. Each student has a card (ideally with a different term on but duplicates are Okay) and they take it in turns to ask the question on their card to a partner who has to try and answer it- if they know the answer first time then they are asked the stretcher question which would be to give an example of the device in action. If they do not know the answer then their partner needs to use the information on their card to try and coach them to the answer, after both students have quizzed, they trade cards and move on to a different partner to hopefully learn/ revise a new term. A more comprehensive explanation can be found here thanks to Kaganonline. A slightly different variation of this is ‘Teach me Tell me more’ a very similar game shared with our department by Isabellawallace during a fantastic inset day last year. Full instructions can be found in her book ‘Talk Less Teaching‘ a fantastic resource full of loads of other innovative ideas that engage learners and secure progress.
The great space race- This is one I used for my Year 9 Narrative: Sci-fi unit but it could be adapted to anything. I split the class into teams and gave each team a piece of paper and a small lunch box. Around my room were 6 extracts from science fiction novels that we had read/looked at in previous lessons blown up to A3. I started all students with the same question; they had to find me an example of a simile in any one of the extracts- the students had to write this down 100% accurately on their piece of paper. If they got it correct first time around they earned 5x Lego pieces, if they had to change it once they earned 3x pieces and any further attempts only 1- they had to store the pieces accumulated in the lunchbox provided until they had completed the task to avoid distractions. Each team found the example at different times, so I could then ask them a different question- I also awarded each team a filled in square on a grid being displayed on the board so they could see how they were doing. Once the team had filled in their 10 boxes and found 10 different techniques/examples or created them, they could use the Lego pieces they had earned to create a science fiction model. I played this during one of our open mornings and everybody loved it! It was such a fun atmosphere with everybody working hard to be accurate as well as showing the knowledge they had gained of narrative techniques throughout the unit.
Kahoot–Not much more can be said about Kahoot, other than it is awesome! I don’t know a student who doesn’t love playing Kahoot- it can be used to test or revise virtually anything- I have used them to revise descriptive and persuasive devices as well as revising key events in chapters or novels. The best thing is that you can export the results into a spreadsheet so if you repeat a test after a period of teaching your should be able to measure the progress your students have made, even if it is only in terms of the knowledge they have gained.
As stated in my introduction, these games are great for purposeful but fun lessons that help students to recap knowledge; they won’t necessarily help students to write a better essay but they may help them to improve their accurate use of subject terminology which we know is becoming more important in the new GCSEs. Also, sometimes it’s OK to just prove to our students that they know things and give them a pat on the back and exciting lesson in the process. I am hoping to think of some more games that can lead to some quality learning in the future- when I do I will share them.
Image Source: By stuartpilbrow on Flickr under (CC BY-SA 2.0)