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The Merit of Educational Games
posted by: Colin | October 03, 2011, 03:28 PM   

Games are such a powerful tool in education, that it often saddens me that they're not used more. Especially as kids get older, we tend to think that we must be earnest and serious in what we teach, and many times games, if played at all, get relegated to review instead of taking their proper place as a way of obtaining information.

Games force students to process information in a new way. Instead of just memorizing the information, they need to process it and apply it. Students are pushed into using those higher order thinking skills that ensure they will remember the given information. Well executed games allow students to attempt multiple strategies and help to develop thinking skills. Also, many games require collaborative thinking, a skill which is becoming more and more valuable in our modern world. Perhaps most importantly, games inspire enthusiasm for the subject material.

During my time teaching, I made a point of making sure that each unit had at least one game or simulation that went along with it. There were the classic review games, but also games from different cultures for my geography class and in-depth simulations where my 6th and 7th grade students worked out aspects to a treaty, tried to save the Romanovs, or figured out the finer points of medieval farming (and why the population stayed so small).

And while I don't believe that computer games will ever take precedent over face to face games either at home or in the classroom, I did find that there were many times computer games brought richness to a unit that wouldn't have otherwise been achieved. I challenged students to build a bigger, more prosperous city than each other (and me) using a freeware version of SimCity 2000, had them complete the Napoleon Challenge, and battle each other using a WWII computer simulation.

Games work well in other environments, too. Math teachers have a wide variety of thought and logic puzzles that they can incorporate. One math teacher that I knew used a flip-style card game to have students challenge each other by solving algebraic expressions. A good friend of mine who is an elementary Spanish teacher has created a bingo game to teach numbers and another made a choose-your-own adventure game on PowerPoint that teaches colors.

While there are a wide variety of games and simulations on the internet for use in the classroom that you can find using any search engine if you have an idea of what you already want. If you're looking for inspiration for new games to add to your curriculum, this search from the site Teachers Pay Teachers is a great place to start.

What is your favorite educational game?
Comment below.

>> Originally posted by Melissa on the AAE Blog.

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