Why should students be the only ones who have the opportunity to play games in class?
Game application programs are just as powerful an instructional tool for teachers as they are for their students because game apps can deliver content to educators in an engaging and challenging way. Instead of sitting in professional development sessions, teachers can be like their students ….out of their seats trying to “beat the buzzer” with their response!
Teams of teachers can challenge other teams of teachers on everything from best practices to trivia hidden in the student handbook, (just how well does everyone know the school dress code?) to organizing performance based assessments ( Choose: debate or poetry smack-down for Shakespeare?)
There are now multiple game applications that can easily deliver different kinds of content to teachers in grades K-12 and make professional development sessions memorable.
Kahoot! is just one of the game applications that can motivate teachers to participate. Teachers, like their students, can be highly motivated by the immediate competition these game apps create. Like their students, educators at all grade levels do respond well to the points/rewards that game apps provide. And like their students, they can enjoy the immediate feedback the apps provided. This free, interactive platform records the results to the presenters, which can be used to design the next level of professional development.
The Kahoot! website explains that their software allows educators the opportunity to:
“Create a fun learning game in minutes (called ‘kahoots’), made from a series of multiple choice questions.”
Once a game is made, it can be individualized with videos and images. Then, “Players answer on their own devices, while games are displayed on a shared screen.”
Another game application that can be used is Quizizz, another quiz, poll, or survey program that uses game graphics with feedback to promote learning. Like Kahoot!, this game app can be individualized for content with videos and images. The promotional material for Quizizz explains that, “Players answer on their own devices, while games are displayed on a shared screen to unite the lesson encouraging players to look up.”
I have used both the Kahoot! and Quizizz apps with teachers for professional development sessions.
Before using the game apps there were more than a few teachers who, exhausted from a day of teaching, would unenthusiastically go through the scheduled activity.
But when they learned they could pull out their phones as a part of the presentation, they immediately became more engaged. The teachers enrolled by using their phone for the quiz and began entering responses on their cell phones or tablets. In less than 20 minutes, I had covered the material that I wanted teachers to know and they remained highly engaged the entire time. They also learned how effective this tool could be if it was used in class on laptops or mobile devices.
When a quiz or survey or poll is created on the game platform, a PIN code is assigned so that everyone can join the activity. Then, the quiz is projected (LCD, Smartboard, Eno board, etc) at the front of the classroom where it can be seen by the whole class so the audience can play together in real-time. The game applications can be used on laptops or personal devices. Depending on which game application is used, devices can display color and symbol choices; the actual answer is viewed on the classroom screen.
A presenter can control the pace of the activity by setting a time limit for each question, which also allows time for information to process or for discussions to take place. As teachers answer questions, they are awarded points for correct answers and the timeliness of their responses. A scoreboard is displayed on the teacher’s screen. Watching that scoreboard with highly engaged teachers proves that nothing is better to incentivize others than a competition with inconsequential rewards!
Game applications can be used for all levels of ability, and the multiple choice option can be set for more than one correct answer. There are options to create discussion questions (“Which of these texts are best used for close reading ?”) or to create surveys (“What percentage of the midterm should contain objective-type questions?”)
I have used the game apps in particular to begin presentations on literacy by taking information from a research study such as Data from Kids Wireless Use Facts:
- % of teenagers,13 -17, who “occasionally” access the Internet with tablets & mobile devices? (91%)
- Over ___ % of parents said schools should make more use of mobile devices for education? (50%)
The data available in research studies can better inform teachers about the growing impact of technology on their students and the academic environment.
Digital apps like Kahoot! and Quizizz game platforms are the kind of technology that David Lassner, President of the University of Hawaii and informational technology expert, meant when he said,
“The real power of interactive technologies is that they let us learn in ways that aren’t otherwise possible or practical.”
The “us” in Lassner’s statement should not limited to the students. Teacher professional development with interactive technologies can be a critical part of a successful education program. It can be engaging. It can be challenging. It is practical, and it is certainly possible.
I will be presenting both of these game apps at the National Council of Teachers of English this coming Saturday, November 19th in Atlanta, Georgia. I will be basing the Kahoot! and Quizziz using information on teenagers and literacy. If you are down at NCTE, stop in at Table 7!