Games + Teaching Method =Our Students Win!
Let’s talk about teaching our students using games.
Or, in my case, let’s talk about which acting games and exercises I think are the best to use in a creative dramatics, acting or even musical theater class when teaching concepts of drama.
Most of these games were created by drama teachers or theater artists. That doesn’t mean you couldn’t use them in another class, though.
After nearly forty years of teaching, I have perfected these particular games and exercises. (Key–LE (lower elementary) UE (upper elementary), MS (middle school), HS (high school)
1. Kitty Wants a Corner–my adaptation is quite a departure from the original game which is DULL. Mine seems like a free for all and very chaotic. It’s not. Ask the students. UE, MS and HS
2. Zip, Zap, Zop–my version includes a third and fourth path around the circle and it is tricky! MS and HS
3. Please Don’t Take Me–I think of PDTM like the television show, “The Weakest Link” because students have to convince others why they are important to the scene. Usually they are inanimate objects! Then, the class votes on the different defenses to decide whose is the strongest. Such fun. Also, I stay on stage and run the game to keep it from becoming a popularity contest. It is amazing how the shyest student comes out of his shell when given half a chance. This game provides that opportunity. UE and up
4. Wax Museum–I always play the game with the kids and demonstrate to them different frozen positions to help them branch out. LE and UE
5. Rhythmic Tableau–When I lead RT, sometimes I speed up or slow down several of the tableau players so that we see the picture in various speeds all at once. It’s so comical and fun. UE through HS
6. Hangman Charades–Do you know this game? Boy, you should. It is such fun. You can spend an entire class period just trying to get one word spelled out and guessed!
But, where can I get your versions? Well, if you follow my blog you are more likely to read about each game I’ve listed than if you don’t. 🙂
However, if you are just looking for some great games for your drama classroom, I’d suggest beginning with Viola Spolin’s Theater Games for the Classroom. I highly recommend it!
Games + Teaching Method = Students Win
I think most educators are looking for ways to reach their students and since we live in an era of computer games, it is wise to see how we can teach our students through games.
I like to warm up before I begin anything, especially when working with other people. When I direct, I prefer to use warm up exercises with my students or even an adult cast because it pulls us all together and helps us focus.
Is there any research which discovered using games as a teaching method is truly beneficial? Yes.
When I began researching this post, I found www.ascd.org and some incredible information concerning games as a teaching method.
Considering I taught for nearly forty years, I’d say it was spot on.
“Use inconsequential competition. In general, students like to compete as long as the stakes are not high. During a two-week unit of instruction, a teacher might organize students into teams of four students each. Teams might play games four or five times during that unit. Each time they play, the first three teams to complete the game receive points (for example, 3 points for the first team to finish, 2 points for the second team, and 1 point for the third team). At the end of the unit, the teacher adds up the points for each team, and the three teams with the highest number of points get some inconsequential but fun reward, such as coupons to buy juice from the vending machines in the cafeteria.
Throughout the year, the teacher should reorganize the teams so all students have the experience of winning and losing. However, teachers must not factor game points into students’ grades for the unit. The points and rewards are simply for fun.
Target essential academic content. If games do not focus on important academic content, they will have little or no effect on student achievement and waste valuable classroom time. The most efficient way to maintain an academic focus is to organize games around important terms and phrases. For example, during a unit on dance moves, a dance teacher might identify terms and phrases such as axial movement, line of gravity, movement phrase, and nonlocomotor movement. Questions and answers would involve information important to these terms and phrases.
Debrief the game. The most common error teachers make when using games is to add up team points and move on. The whole point of playing academic games in the classroom is to provide opportunities for students to examine important content in a lively and enjoyable venue. To stimulate analysis of important terms and phrases, a teacher can ask students which questions were difficult to answer and why.
For example, suppose that during a game of Pictionary in a mathematics class, students had difficulty drawing an image to represent the Fibonacci sequence. At the conclusion of the game, the teacher would ask students about their difficulties with this item. The discussion would serve as a brief review of the defining characteristics of a Fibonacci sequence.
Have students revise their notes. One generalization that applies to learning all types of content is that students must have opportunities to revise their understanding of the content as time goes by. When a game has ended and the class has discussed difficult terms and concepts related to the content, the teacher should give students time to revise their notes. A teacher might ask students to look over what they have previously written about this content in their notes and make any necessary changes. This might involve correcting misconceptions or adding new information that the students were unaware of.
Games: Checkmate! Our Students Win!
I have a Teacherspayteachers store with units and lessons (which include several of these games listed above) that may help you or be of interest to you. Check it out at: Dramamommaspeaks Store
Here are a few you might enjoy.
Each unit comes with several games and warm ups which focus on particular skills needed in the lesson.
So if you aren’t using games as a teaching method, try some. I’d love to hear how it goes for you.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or my website DeborahBaldwin.net