I remember the first day of school being really exciting, who were my teachers going to be, which of my friends would be in my classes, would there be any new kids at the school? The first few days would be the same routine and then…the abject terror of the first real lessons on the new material and I would realize I had basically forgotten everything from the year before, at least, that’s how it felt. Now, a week later and we were into the new subject material, what I needed of the old material had come back and we were on our way to the rest of the school year.
I suspect I was not the only student who “suffered” through this experience and I posit that students(and teachers) could be eased into the new school year with the use of games. I also think the students themselves should be the game makers.
Games are a great way to reinforce ideas taught in school. What if designing games for the sake of review was one of the tasks students performed during the year? Students would be fully immersed in the subject for as long as they worked on their games. Students would have to understand what was really going on with the material in order to make their games playable. If the games they made turned out to be really fun, they would want to play it outside of the classroom and outside of the school.
I would agree that making games takes a long time and there would have to be a limit on the time provided to make these games, but I never said these games had to be robust and I never said they had to be finished. Designing a game forces designers to think about how everything connects to each other. If a connection doesn’t make sense, playtesting and playtesters will tell the designer the connects don’t feel right.
What if two or three of the games ion each classroom created were actually fun, engaging and did a good job of reinforcing the lessons of the material? These could be used in the classroom as time/review fillers during the year, or they could be used for next years incoming students to prepare them for what they will learn. These games can also be used as review the following year to ease everyone back into the start of the school year.
What if the first week of school was about playing games, re-familiarizing yourself with last years material, and getting to know the other students in the classroom through the act of playing a game? What if students were able to see their name on the box of their game being used in the classroom? I understand if that was a source of peer embarrassment because kids can be awful to each other, but if I came back to my school later in life and saw my game still being used with my name on it, I would be immensely proud.
I can go on and on about the benefits and versatility of these review style games. The benefits are many and while the time challenges can be great, the engagement, interest, and environment of creation are worth spending the time.
If you have any ideas on how games can make great educational tools, please share them in the comments section or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org