Monday, May 6, 2013

ITIP of the Week: Games in the Brain Friendly Classroom

Hi all!

I am continuing my trek through Marcia Tate's Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites and I keep thinking about "Everything I Need To Know In Life I Learned In Kindergarten." Really, it doesn't start there...we could learn SO MUCH about learning by watching babies, toddlers, and even young animals.


Our earliest learning situations are engulfed in game-play, aren't they? We learn physical skills, shapes, letters, words, social skills, and much more through games. Take a minute and think about the skills being honed when playing Monopoly, Life, Pictionary, or Scrabble. Don't worry...they will still be fun even though you know, now, that you are actually learning something.

So why does it stop when we get older and as we go through school? Playing games makes the learning environment positive and fun which lowers stress and allows for greater memory-for-content. As a matter of fact, when the environment is stressful, the body produces cortisol which actually inhibits recall. Playing games also increases motivation, focus, and cognition.

As teachers, we operate in an environment that is one huge Trivial Pursuit game! Why don't we take advantage of that? Transform your content from a boring PBS show (no offense, PBS. Go Big Bird!) to an exciting and fun game show every now and again. The research is there to back up that game-play is effective in learning. Don't feel guilty about it!

Do you want to make it even more powerful? Research shows that game-play is even more effective in the classroom when the students not only play the game, but also create the rules and content. Make them owners of their learning and it will be longer-lasting and more meaningful.

So if you were going to lecture today, play a game instead! I need to start another Words With Friends game with my dad.

Have a happy day!

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