If you’ve been with me for long, you know I like to use games in my classroom. Rather than using worksheets or packets for introduction and review of skills, gamifying education has always been one of my favorite ways to engage my students; however, with a sudden shift to online learning, I knew that I was going to have to get creative and take my review games virtual with a digital game board.
Recently, I’ve placed my efforts in taking some of the topics I typically use for review: text structure, author’s purpose, and figurative language and creating digital, Google-friendly versions of the games that can be shared with students through online means. Each game includes a Google-integrated gameboard that can be played using Google slides and a pdf. The games are self-checking, so they can be used with the full-class in-person or in a virtual setting and/or students can play the games individually or in small groups.
Each gameboard has 6 moving ‘character’ pieces, moving ‘Xs’ to mark which questions have been used, a self-checking question sheet, an integrated dice rolling video embedded into the gameboard, easily-accessible instructions for students, and bonus questions to enhance game-play. Want to see all this goodness in action? I’ve included video previews for the resources. Check out the Text Structure Digital Review Game plus preview video here!
Why Use Games and Digital Game Boards?
Spiraling content is a foundational tool in my classroom. Spiraling, put simply, is making sure to ‘spiral’ or loop back occasionally through previously-learned information to make sure students are retaining important concepts. I talk about spiraling content in more detail in this blog post.
I’ve always found games to be the best way to review information with students because games provide challenges and incentives to review information. When I used packets and worksheets, I often find students have incorrect answers or are missing important concepts. The review games I create now are self-checking to ensure that students are getting the immediate feedback they need to know if they are on the right track.
In addition to being self-checking, the games are also valuable because they can be incorporated into large group settings, small groups, played individually, played in pull-out groups, etc.
Full-Class Play with Digital Game Board
Using the new Google Slide versions of these review games, teachers are able to project the boards using their classroom projections system for the whole class to play together. Students can be placed in groups to talk through answers, use whiteboards or paper to write down their answers and hold up to ‘submit,’ or students can document their answers individually and self-check. If teachers have an option for a voting app or clickers for the classroom, they can even have students ‘vote’ on the right answer as they review as a full class.
If using the game in a virtual setting, the game board can be presented to the full class, and students can use the same paper/whiteboard method for revealing their answers, or students can be called on to answer the questions. Again, to increase engagement, if you have access to a polling or voting application, students who are not answering the question verbally can still submit their answers and engage in the activity silently.
Another option for the physical classroom is to play in small groups on a computer, or the gameboard and pieces can be printed to play physically. Using basic game pieces from another game (such as dice or character pieces) students can manipulate the pieces on the board much as they would any boardgame. After months of digital learning, this in-person game-play may be just what the doctor ordered!
More Digital Options
Using Zoom breakout sessions, students can play the games in small groups or even participate in a tournament-style review activity. Another digital learning idea is to assign the games to students through Google Classroom to play with their families, by themselves, or with other students. When using this option, be sure to use the setting that provides each student with their own copy.
I know that teachers do not have the time to spend right now “ figuring things out,” so to help transition this resource to digital learning, I’ve included videos within the digital teacher’s manual to show how to generally use this resource with students, and how to assign the resource to students through Google Classroom.
Extended Learning Option
The digital game board comes with a question list that is self-checking, but students can be challenged to a higher level of Bloom’s Taxonomy by being asked to write example questions for the game themselves. If students create their own examples and answers, they just need to assign the examples a color, list the questions and answers on a shared document, and the game can be played again. This is an awesome extension activity for advanced students or students looking for a challenge.
Even More Ways to ‘Play’ with This Resource
The U-Know cards can be sorted into decks to represent the different colors and used as questions for the game, as can the task cards.
To prepare the gameboard to be played this way in the physical classroom environment, teachers can print the U-Know or Task cards on colored paper that correspond with the gameboard, and then students can play.
If teachers want to use the U-Know game cards or Task cards digitally, they just need to create a question/answer PDF or Google Document that can be assigned along with the game.
If you already own any of my ‘Game Show’ activities, these board games can be used alongside the questions in those games as well. The only obstacle will be assigning colors to match the gameboard.
I hope you have found some great ideas for incorporating these new gameboard activities into your digital and physical classrooms. Can you think of any other ways to use these boards? Let me know in the comments!