A Vocabulary Lesson that Really Sticks in Your Head
Game-based learning, or gamification, is getting a lot of attention right now. Although these ideas are more about technology and game creation through technology, I have always found games of any kind to be a great tool in the classroom. Playing games is a great way for students to interact, engage in discussion, and have fun at the same time, but it doesn't have to be technology based to be awesome.
For this particular "play date", the game is called Hedbandz, and we are reviewing vocabulary from our Ancient America unit in World History. Students were using critical thinking skills to communicate a clue that would help their teammates guess their vocabulary word in a game that they collaboratively created. I call this a win for the teacher.
I asked my students how many of them had played the game "Hedbandz" before and most were familiar with it. Fortunately, I had enough students that had the game at home and were able to bring the bandz in from their game to get a class set of 30. Then they went through the chapter and made word cards from the vocabulary in the text. No prep for me, I win round two as well. The day we were going to play, I was at the door to greet them as they came in with a head band on and the word "codex" in it. I told them they had to give me a clue to get in.
I wasn't absolutely sure how the game was going to work in class, but I'm a let's just see what happens kind of teacher, so that's what I did. I let them tell me how we were going to play. Sometimes it is really nice to take a break from being the person making up all the rules and see what they come up with when left to figure it out on their own. Together we came up with a set of rules and some guidelines for giving clues. Well, I mostly just wrote down their rules. There were some rules that they decided they needed as they were playing and I added those to the list too.
Here are the rules: You can't say the word or any letters in the word, rhymes, etc. Take turns giving clues. If you cant give a clue, you can play your one "X" card and pass. If you guess your word, you keep the card. If you have gotten a clue from everyone in your group and you still couldn't guess your word, then the word card goes in the discard pile to be played again. The winner was supposed to be the player that collected the most cards, but my students were more focused on playing and just wanted to keep playing-winner means the game is over. Most kids played in groups of 5-6 and I was glad for that because I was imagining a game with 30 playing all together and it being a disaster.
Management tip: If you don't have access to 30 headbandz you could make sentence strip head bandz with a paper clip. I put the plastic HedBandz in a tub in my closet and doused them with clorox and let them sit for 30 minutes after the game. It's probably a bad idea to share any head gear without some thorough cleaning after each use.
February 4, 2015, was the first annual Global School Play Day for students in schools around the world, grades Pre-K to 6 or ages 1-12. Grades 7-12 joined in, too! It's time to start looking forward to GSPD 2016. your class/school today!
I am definitely into this new movement too, but I think it is important to remember that playing isn't just for pre-Ks and it's not just for one day a year. Play as much as possible! I'm turning 40 this year and I still love a good game.