Contributed by Mary Wissinger
Let’s face it: our students are playing games. A lot of them.
It’s easy to malign games and say they cause short attention spans and behavior problems, but for better or worse, games aren’t going anywhere. As educators, we have the opportunity to join a movement that has captured the attention of our students. By incorporating games into the classroom and using the language of games, we can change students’ thinking so that the resilient behavior displayed while playing a game is transferred to the learning process.
In a growth mindset, causes are greater than results. Progress and growth in the learning process are recognized as valuable. This is directly in line with our students’ relationship with the game. They usually play games to win, but mostly the point of playing a game is to play. They enjoy the experience of playing, and then there is a result. With that in mind, it’s not a leap from a sandbox game (like Minecraft) to a sandbox that is Art Class. Yes, the final product is important, but so is how we get there. In any class, educators expect students to value the content, but also the process of learning and thinking. We can create excitement about learning by adopting a playful mindset.
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With a game, kids already expect a learning curve. They know they have to learn the rules to play the game. Whether it’s kickball on the playground or in a video game, there are rules about what you can and can’t do It transfers directly to any educational concept where essential knowledge is required. Once they understand the bonding rules, they can draw a molecule. Once they understand a pentatonic scale, they can use it to improvise a song.
We can bridge this gap by incorporating games that allow for the practice of educational concepts, such as word games or logic puzzles. Students literally can the game With ideas, and enjoy themselves. In this low-stakes, supportive environment, students feel free to take intellectual risks because it’s just a game. It removes the fear of learning and gets them excited about what’s coming next. Another possibility is to recognize achievements as if students have just won a game or completed a level. Be creative about how to mark when they’ve mastered songs for a concert or successfully completed a tricky test.
Challenge a fixed mindset
To a student stuck in a fixed mindset, every task at school either keeps them on track or derails their dreams. A fixed mindset says, “If I score ____ on this test, then I _____.” This is limiting but can be avoided with a word – yet. It is an important word in the vocabulary of anyone with a growth mindset. The term implies that eventually, with effort, the person will complete the task or acquire the knowledge required by the situation.
see more 25 Ways to Help Students Develop a Growth Mindset
Games give students an opportunity to practice speaking yet. I didn’t find the treasure yet. I didn’t win a round yet. They are playing and learning, and a setback is normal and not ‘failing’. Another game may begin soon. What’s so wonderful about games is that they teach life lessons. game time any Through play, children will learn that they will win some and lose some. Even if they do everything right, it might not work. They may have to try again. It’s just part of playing the game, and (spoiler alert!) part of living as a human being in the world.
However, it is difficult for students to persevere when they receive low grades or repeatedly find themselves not meeting a unit objective. This presents a unique opportunity for educators to tap into the game mentality. A seasoned gamer never gives up after losing the first level. They take what they learn and try again at the same level. Once a player has played enough, they become proficient, complete their tasks and they are ready for the next level. We can use this language of play to talk about benchmarks, or meeting an objective. If a student isn’t ready to ‘level up’ with a concept, they know they can try again with more information or a different strategy. Regardless of the language used, a playful mindset can help students move forward in the face of adversity.
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The real beauty of a game, like a growth mindset, is the results never Fixed someone else winning every time. A strategy may not always work. But, each turn offers an opportunity to get closer to the end goal. In this relaxed environment, students can learn how to laugh off bad turns and cheer their peers on afterward. When the time comes, they will know how to shake off low grades, refocus on their learning, and help others do the same.
Start the game!
Mary Wissinger is a writer, educator, and creativity coach Chin up hits open. He is currently in the team Genius GamesA company is designing science-themed tabletop games that are kid-tested and educator approved; Image attribution to Flickr users woodleywonderworks and sharonmollerus