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CLASSROM DIGITAL PEDAGOGY

Gamification & Game-Based Learning - Tools for Teachers

Introduction

Having developed an understanding of what Gamification and Game-Based Learning (GBL) means in our previous article, we are going to start to unpack a variety of different tools that teachers can use in their classroom and look at now only how you can use them, but also the pedagogical benefits that can help improve the students learning outcomes. In this article, we are going to start looking at the SMART Learning Suite and the first four tools in the collection of 11 Game-Based Activities that are embedded into that educational software platform. The SMART Learning suite is a fantastic educational software platform that is designed with educational pedagogy as its driving force. There is a huge suite of tools available in both the online (cloud-based) and notebook (downloadable) versions that can be utilised in the classroom to create a powerful, engaging learning environment, but in this article, we are going to focus on the Game-Based Learning and how they can be used by teachers across all ages to enhance the student learning outcomes. 

As a teacher, I worked for most of my career in a secondary school, and regardless of the year level I taught, from year 7 to year 12, all students loved it when we incorporated GBL into the classroom. Especially in the higher years of secondary education, students are quickly excited by the opportunity to step out of the routine, “serious” nature that is the VCE/HSC and experience their learning in what they perceive as a fun, non-academic focused way. Be this using games or even getting them to make a poster or something creative like a podcast or short film, students of all ages love to get involved in activity based, hands-on learning activities and if you are looking to inject a sense of fun, boost student engagement in your classroom while strengthening the learning and understanding of the content being delivered, GBL can be the right tool to help you achieve this. The SMART Learning Suite has created 11 GBL Activities that teachers from all year levels, from prep/foundation to year 12 can easily incorporate into the learning that occurs in their classroom.

Before we start to unpack the SMART Learning Suite GBL Activities, it is important to understand how these can be used in the classroom. While the SMART Learning Suite has been designed to work effectively with the SMART Board front of class interactive displays, there is a fantastic added benefit to this educational software platform. The SMART Learning Suite software has the capability for students to play these GBL Activities (as well as interact with other key elements of the software) directly on their personal devices. Connecting to the teacher’s digital classroom through the unique SMART Class ID, teachers can have students engage with the lessons, and specifically for this article the GBL Activities, through the hellosmart.com or classlab.com internet portals meaning that all the students can engage in these learning activities simultaneously. Now that we understand that we can start exploring the first 3 tools teachers can use in their classroom and how they can impact their pedagogical practice.

Game 1 - Fill in the blanks

Fill in the Blanks is a fantastic learning tool that allows teachers to easily write or paste a 300-character statement into the wizard, highlight or identify 10 words that will be marked as blanks, choose a theme, or look for the game and then publish it for students to engage with, at the SMART Board on their devices through the hellosmart.com classroom web portal. These words appear at the bottom of the screen and students can drag and drop their answers into the locations that they think are the best fit. Fill in the Blanks is a fantastic tool that focuses on the development of student’s deduction (the process of reaching a decision or answer by thinking about the known facts), composition, and memory. Also inbuilt into this tool is the element of feedback allowing you to choose how and when the student receives feedback (when prompted or instantly).

The variety of feedback delivery times can trigger metacognitive strategies at different times throughout the activity, which can impact the way in which the student develops their understanding of the topic being covered. Instant feedback will trigger the student to think about their thinking at the time that they put the answer into the phrase – why was that wrong and what do I need to change in my thinking before I make my next answer choice? This can be a very powerful tool for having students to self-assess their learning and the choices that they make during the process.

Moving the feedback to the end of the activity, students could conduct a self-assessment of the choices that they made and then adjust their choices before resubmission and reassessment. This can be a very powerful learning tool for students to learn from the choices they made and then think about the process that they undertake or implement to reach the correct answer. Overall, this GBL Activity can be a great formative assessment tool that students can access throughout their learning to demonstrate their understanding of the learning being undertaken.

Game 2 - Game Show

If you have been looking for ways to transform that end of unit multiple choice quiz into fun and interactive games, then look no further than SMARTS Game Show. This fantastic tool takes the multiple-choice quiz and embeds it into a fun traditional game show platform where students answer questions for points, spin the wheel to earn powerups, and even steam points from their opponents when questions are answered incorrectly. Played as either an entire class activity or in small group collaborative stations on their devices, students put their understanding of a topic to the test in this competitive and fun game show scenario.

The user-friendly game building wizard gives teachers the opportunity to choose between multiple-choice and true/false question types, type in questions, or copy/paste text from an existing word document and select the correct answer for instant correction. Adding as many questions as they like, teachers can also randomise the question order so you can use this assessment tool more than once. As either a whole class or small group collaborative activity, where students can discuss and negotiate answer within their teams before inputting them into the game interface. 

The user-friendly game building wizard gives teachers the opportunity to choose between multiple-choice and true/false question types, type in questions, or copy/paste text from an existing word document and select the correct answer for instant correction. Adding as many questions as they like, teachers can also randomise the question order so you can use this assessment tool more than once. As either a whole class or small group collaborative activity, where students can discuss and negotiate answer within their teams before inputting them into the game interface. This collaborative interaction gives students experience in the act of negotiation as well as developing communication skills like explanation and justification. The students also receive instant feedback from the Game Show host, triggering metacognitive strategies. In the event they answer the question correctly, it reinforces the process they implemented to choose the correct answer and in turn solidifies their learning, however when an incorrect answer is entered the opposition team has the chance to steal the points and the students could conduct a self-assessment as to why their answer was incorrect.

The review process also allows teachers to identify deficits in the student’s knowledge and use that data to reapproach ways in which they teach the content in the future. It can also be used as a teaching tool to help students identify errors that were made and to identify ways in which they can adjust their thinking for future learning activities. Used as either a formative or summative assessment tool, teachers can quickly and easily build and delivery this highly engaging and effective GBL Activity in their classroom.

Game 3 - Match Em Up

Have you been looking for ways to understand relationships between different elements of the coursework that you teach? Well, look no further than SMARTs March Em Up game. This is a fun way to get students to understand relationships between elements of their learning, be it periodic symbols and their names, animals and the sounds that they make, food and their dietary categories, anything that requires students to understand relationships can be taught using this game, a great way for students to explore one-on-one correspondence as well as developing their working memory.

The platform also provides you with a variety of different themes, from the knight fighting a fire breathing dragon, rock guitarists rocking out on stage to superheroes fighting a robot who is trying to take over the city, there are a variety of different themes that can create an exciting and engaging experience for your students.

What makes this Game Based Activity even more enticing is the ease at which it can be built. The game wizard provides you with 2 simple steps to building your game – the first is importing images or writing text into the table to identify which pairs go together, and the second is choosing your theme. From there you can easily connect your students to your hellosmart.com digital classroom and have them engage in this activity directly on their own personal devices

Game 4 - Monster Quiz

Much like Game Show, the Monster Quiz game allows teachers to assess students’ understanding as either a formative or summative assessment task in a fun and engaging way. Asking either Multiple Choice or True/False questions, students are broken into teams and they work collaboratively against other teams, trying to answer the questions the fastest to free their monster. This highly engaging game not only encourages their participation but also provides feedback on answers that are both right and wrong as well as triggers metacognitive strategies. When students get questions incorrect, they move on with the rest of the quiz later coming back to the questions they had trouble with later in the game, however, when they revisit the challenging questions, the answer they originally selected have been blocked out, triggering the thought process to analyse why they selected that answer and what was wrong about it.

They then can reassess the options and choose again. This valuable feedback and analysis tool allows students to learn from their mistakes and make choices from those errors that can assist with their future development, creating positive work practices for their future learning. 

As monster quiz is based on the same wizard builder as a game show, users will see a familiar and simple layout that allows you to either write in questions or utilise and existing quiz you may have developed by copying and pasting questions from a document that you may have had already developed – just remember to mark which answer is the correct one so that the program can mark the questions for you!

At the end of the session there is an opportunity for teachers to review the students’ answers and as a class, unpack not only the correct answers but also explore the processes that students employed to discount the incorrect answers. This valuable assessment analysis can help students with future assessment tasks and develop their analytical and critical thinking skills.

The 4 games that we have discussed in this article can be accessed through the SMART Learning Suite Online platform as well as the SMART Notebook software. Students can engage either at the SMART Board at the front of the classroom or these games can be pushed to the student’s personal devices for personal or small group interaction. To explore these games, you can sign up for a free trial via the link below. Once your trial has expired, please reach out to us at the PAVE Academy or to our parent company Pro AV Solutions to explore how you and the teachers at your school can access a license for these games as well as the other amazing tools that are a part of the SMART Learning Suite platform.

Questions that can drive your integration of Gamification and Game-Based Learning into the classroom and can spark professional discussions with your colleagues.

Q1

What am I doing in my current teaching practice that is the gamification of learning?

Q2

Can I use GBL tasks as formative assessment tools in my classroom?

Q3

How could I use one or all these 4 games in my classroom to increase student engagement and improve student learning outcomes?

Q4

How can I transform a current learning activity or project into a Game-Based Learning Task?

Q5

How can GBL help me plan and execute cross-curricular activities in my classroom?

References

Deduction
Published: Cambridge Dictionary

SMART Learning Suite Online
SMART Technologies

Image References

Fill in the Blanks – these images were created from PAVE Academy activities

Game Show – these images were created from PAVE Academy activities

Match Em Up – these images were created from PAVE Academy activities

Monster Quiz 1

Monster Quiz 2