A Stab at (Digital) Game-Based Learning

A friend introduced me to this website called Socrative. It’s a technology-based way to engage students in classroom conversation while achieving 100% participation.

Yes, I said it.

100% participation.

I usually roll my eyes (inwardly, of course) when someone exhorts that 100% participation from students all the time is a must. I want students listening, absolutely, but I don’t need a student talking just to talk because he thinks it’s going to help his grade. For that exact reason, I don’t assign a grade to verbal participation. I myself don’t talk in whole class settings for weeks. I definitely talk when in small groups though.

Case in point: we have all been in a classroom where a teacher asks a question and the same few hands shoot up. Hell, I still see that in my own classroom. Although I try to remedy that with destiny sticks (all students’ names are written on popsicle sticks; I then pull a name at random and it’s that person’s “destiny” to speak; sometimes I give them a warning, most times I don’t; the sticks can also be used to assign random groups), there are some students who are just too shy to verbally participate.

Enter Socrative.

Students can chart their response in Socrative. A bar graph then pops up which immediately shows what the whole class thinks. I was actually surprised at how excited the students were to see a simple bar graph. Short answer responses are available too. If the teacher chooses, students can then vote on the best response. I don’t know about you, but I try to think a little bit more about the content if I know it’s going to be shown to a wider audience of my peers rather than just the teacher.

Quizzes can also be pre-loaded into Socrative (it will automatically grade the multiple choice for you; the rest is up to you).

The quizzes can be formatted as a Space Race too. Space Race is a game, essentially. Each time a student answers a question correctly, his/her space shuttle moves across the screen. The kids got really animated trying to get their little rinky-dink space ship to move.

I loved it; I recommend it; and I’ll be using it a lot more times between now and the end of the school year.

I still know next to nothing about game-based education, but I’m definitely open to exploring it more if it’ll keep the kids as excited as they were with Space Race.

Note: If internet access is an issue but there is a computer lab at your school, I would suggest structuring a lesson that can take place in the computer lab every once in a while. I’m trying to do just that at least twice a month with my students. Socrative can also be accessed via smart phones, but a projector would still be needed to show the class bar graphs, short answer responses, space shuttles, etc…



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