A Journey Through Technology

Week 9: How do you currently infuse play into your class? How might you change this as a result of some of the ideas you have encountered?

on November 4, 2016

Throughout this semester, we have looked at the benefits to gamification in the classroom. Games tend to be more engaging for students, and if we use gamification correctly, students can not only become more engaged, but perhaps even learn more. I found an interesting article that discusses gaming in the classroom, and the first part of the article really emphasized what we’ve been working on. “We may think we’re pretty smart, but in fact we have very little notion of how humans learn. Kids know: They play games. Until, that is, they go to school. That’s when the games stop. And often, so does the learning.” (MacKay, 2013) In an article for the New York Times, David Kohn talks about lack of play in education as being part of the reason that the United States is behind so many other countries in academic performance. (Kohn, 2015)

One of the favorite units I teach in Chemistry is the unit on Ions and Compounds, and the main reason is the game my students get to play, Go Fish For An Ion. When I have my students play a game in class, the engagement level always increases. Students are competitive and most of them really get into the game. In Go Fish, students need to understand how ions come together to form compounds so they can make a match, or an ionic compound formula. Once they get the hang of it, the class can get very loud as students’ excitement increases. We usually play for about an hour, and by the time we are finished, students usually have a pretty solid understanding of ionic compound formulas, plus they are all trying to see who gets the bragging rights for having the highest score. Some years, we even play Go Fish on a second day because students enjoyed it so much the first time. It also serves as a great review before the test.

In planning the gamification of my classroom, I am trying to think of other types of games I can infuse into my classroom. As my students work on the activities I usually use for the units, I am trying to come up with ways to make them more like a game. This year I have started using Kahoot! as both a review tool, but also an instructional tool. I have never seen my students so excited to review for a test! The class can get very boisterous at times, but the feedback I get from students is that they want to keep playing.

Matera mentions mini-games as a way of using play in the classroom the “are fun but don’t really fit the overall story.” (Matera, 2015, Kindle location 2506) This is very helpful for me in planning games because I would have probably tried to make all of the games fit the story of my gamification, probably causing myself a lot of frustration and headache. Knowing that games don’t have to follow my story will help me try different games with my students.

Another way of adding play to the classroom is in the form of “Playful Assessment.” Matera states that these assessments “are both a challenging and creatively different way to find out what”students know. (Matera, 2015, Kindle location 3023) I would have never thought of using games for actual assessment, but some of the ideas that Matera shares, like Dominoes or Odd One Out, could easily be adapted for my Chemistry classes.

The process of gamifying my classroom has introduced me to many ideas I would have never used before. I think that introducing play in assessment would be interesting to try out, and I look forward to seeing how that works in my classroom.


Kohn, D. (2015, May 16). Let the Kids Learn Through Play. Retrieved November 03, 2016, from http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/17/opinion/sunday/let-the-kids-learn-through-play.html?_r=0

MacKay, R. F. (2013, March 1). Playing to learn: Can gaming transform education? Retrieved November 03, 2016, from https://ed.stanford.edu/news/playing-learn-can-gaming-transform-education

Matera, M. (2015). Explore Like a Pirate: Engage, enrich, and elevate your learners with gamification and game-inspired course design [Kindle Edition].


2 responses to “Week 9: How do you currently infuse play into your class? How might you change this as a result of some of the ideas you have encountered?

  1. unicyclepro says:

    I think it’s a good strategy to incorporate games in class. If it gets kids motivated to learn. That is still one issue I am not totally convinced about concerning games. Not everyone likes or plays games. I mentioned in another blog comment that I am a pretty “dry” and “boring” math teacher. I have not incorporated any games in my class. I still want to try and gamify my high school math class though, and I was very overwhelmed, and still overwhelmed of the amount of game mechanics, story lines, and possibilities of gamifying a class. I remember reading that we don’t play games by reading all the rules first. Well, I feel we HAVE read all the rules Matera has given us to gamify a class, before gamifying a class! I like that you already incorporate some games in chemistry, and the kids enjoy it. I need to start small too, like you did and add as I go.


  2. Sara Lucas says:

    Little games like yours always show the benefit of games. I am teaching a program that has a few board games. Really these games are nothing more than some spaces that give you points, some space you lose points on, and the others correspond to cards you try to answer correctly. My students go crazy and, like you, we end up playing it at least 2 days. It is a board game about the seal types and by the end the students who really played know them. I have very few students who don’t really get into it, and I have more student engagement than when there is a worksheet or something similar. I tend to wonder if these mini games tied into a larger class game if you would get the other students to join in. I like Matera’s ideas of having class challenges. This way you only get some of the things if the whole class is on board. A little peer pressure can go a long way.


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