Teachers often look for new ways to incorporate digital technologies into their classrooms. One way to do this is through gamification, which means adapting elements of game-play to learning activities. Gamification has not only become very popular, it is also a proven method of enhancing student knowledge. According to Matthew Lynch with The Tech Edvocate, though many subjects can be gamified, games can be particularly helpful when teaching students science-based lessons.
Before I was even familiar with the term gamification, I was playing Jeopardy with my students to review material before chapter tests. Students loved competing against each other to come up with the right question in response to the ‘answer’ clues on the Jeopardy board. Members of the winning team always received some chocolate or another type of goody.
Two of the most popular gamification sites are Kahoot! and Quizizz. Both use a colourful format and music to create a high energy, fun learning environment. Both offer a variety of question types, make it easy to create questions, and allow you to import images and change the time allotted for answering questions. Both also award students more points the faster they answer the questions.
The biggest difference is that in Kahoot the questions and answer choices are projected at the front of the classroom, students choose the answers on their devices, and all students answer the same question at the same time. The advantage to this approach is that after each question the teacher has the option of inserting a teaching moment, a review of the question to clarify how to derive the correct answer.
In Quizizz the questions and answer choices are shown on the students‘ devices and although the questions are also timed, students answer the questions at their own pace. Questions can be randomised so that adjacent students do not have the same question at the same time. The Quizizz user interface has more of a “game show” feel with a constantly changing leader board, player icons that can be personalised, silly memes between questions and power ups that students earn after answering questions correctly. These include the popular 50-50 that removes two incorrect answer choices.
Both assessment apps are fun in their own way. I find that younger students prefer Quizizz with its “corny” features and older students like Kahoot with its more “serious” learning environment. The standard music in Kahoot drives me crazy though.
These fast-paced, high-energy games do not offer the best learning environment for everyone. Students who like to work in a slower, less competitive fashion may enjoy something along the lines of pixel art challenges. A popular Teachers Pay Teachers Store, One for the Books, offers a variety of pixel art challenge options. There is also a free ten minute pixel art challenge for teachers so you can familiarize yourself with how they work. Kesler Science, also on Teachers Pay Teachers, has escape room challenges for a variety of middle and high school science subjects.
Bringing game-play into your teaching is a fun way to engage and motivate students. If you have any great game ideas for teaching science or other subjects, please post a comment below.