Monday, April 25, 2016

Gamification can be low-tech

If you keep up with education news, you might be familiar with the concept of gamification.  (If not, basically, it's applying principles of playing a game to something that isn't a game, generally to make it more interesting/fun/enjoyable to the audience.)  I've attended some talks on the topic, and have been intrigued by the idea.  Of course, as language teachers, we use games regularly to help students review; one of my favorite new tools is kahoot, which turns my reviews into a game, complete with timer and countdown music.  (Thanks to my sister, Becca, for telling me about this last semester!)

But games don't have to be high-tech to be useful and fun.  It's almost the end of the semester, and I'm going over the vocab in the last chapter for my first- and third-semester classes.  I already have a bingo game for clothing vocab (the theme for the first-semester class), but I've also already done enough bingo games this semester, and don't want to bore students by doing bingo again*.  I was also thinking that it might be nice to do a vocab activity where students were working on productive (rather than receptive) vocab knowledge.  So I started thinking about card games, and wondering if I could adapt a card game for Spanish vocabulary review.   I decided to use Go Fish, because students would need to be able to produce the vocab word in order to request the card, and today one class played Go Fish (¡Vete a pescar!) with clothing vocab, and the other played Go Fish with nature vocab.  I only used pictures on the cards (no words), so that students are not just reading the word from the card.  They either have to recall it from memory, or look it up so that they can request the card they want.  It's probably my most popular game so far, and students in both classes were able to play the game entirely in Spanish.

I've posted my Go Fish games here, along with templates that could be used to create custom Go Fish games.

*However, I also realized that it had somehow never occurred to me to create a bingo game for my phonetics class, so our end-of-semester review of phonemes and allophones is a brand-new phonetics bingo game!

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