One teacher shares her favorite games for chemistry, biology, and more, plus resources to help teachers
Motivating students and keeping students actively engaged in lessons is becoming frequently more challenging for even the most creative teachers. At times it can seem we’re competing with smartphones and video games for students’ undivided attention. Perhaps the best strategy is to embrace the technology and harness it for learning.
Using games to teach, and adding gamification principles to the classroom, can make learning meaningful, engaging, and fun for even the most reluctant learners. I use games in my classroom in a few ways. I use them to actively teach content, to make lessons more engaging, and as project-based learning platforms for immersive learning. Some of the games are digital, and others are played as board games, or in a variety of other formats.
My favorite lesson planning resources are provided by The Institute of Play and 3D Game Labs.
The Institute of Play provides resources that teachers can use to plan and create games, and align them to curriculum and standards. They also provide game theory and design templates and information that make it easy to create a well-designed game that seamlessly fits curricular objectives.
3D Game Labs provides an affordable platform for gamifying the classroom. Teachers can take content and create quests, badges and an online platform for students to engage with the content in fun and exciting ways. I have used this platform as a teacher to take professional development courses, and I’m currently planning to purchase an account to gamify my curriculum.
In my classroom, we play a lot of games, frequently as the lesson. We then discuss what the students experienced in the game and make content connections via whole-group discussion. I often create a graphic organizer or worksheet for students to use to organize their thoughts about the game. When I have my biology and life science students play Cell Craft, for example, I demonstrate gameplay and features for the whole class using my laptop and projector. Students complete the organizer while we go through the game as a group and discuss the content. Then, students get a chance to play the game and really immerse themselves.
(Next page: Games that teach chemistry, cell biology, and economics concepts)