There are many online games that teachers can use to help students learn any subject. A simple search for “online learning game” + a topic will likely return many quality resources. However, it’s not always easy to find ways to integrate these tools into your class. One reason this can be confusing is that online games are often designed for individual or small group play, and this is approach doesn’t always fit into existing classroom strategies. Using online games in your classroom can be a powerful tool that makes it worth considering different approaches.
- Games as a motivational tool
Simply put, games are fun. Online games, whether instructional or entertaining or (ideally) both, give students an opportunity to experience play during the school day. Even young children can enjoy online games as long as they are introduced to developmentally appropriate games that fit their reading level and problem-solving skills. One way you could capitalize on this is by using gaming time as a reward. You can allow students to earn play time for good behavior or academic achievements. This might be minutes of play time for completed work, or you could allow them to play once they have finished all the assigned activities.
- Games as a differentiation tool
You can also use online games as a way to help differentiate lessons. Learning through gameplay is very different from direct instruction, problem-based learning, and many other lesson types. As a result, many teachers use online games as a powerful option for delivering instruction. Students who struggle with attention or motivation can greatly benefit from fast-paced, constantly-changing instructional games. Additionally, the challenges inherent to gameplay encourage students to stay motivated. This also helps build their grown mindset.
- Games as a learning station
Not only students with special needs benefit from online games. One way to use these tools is to include a station in your classroom where any student can play. Whether students rotate through the stations regularly or they can choose a station at certain times, allowing an online gaming station allows all students to benefit. Specifically, it is good for all types of learners to have the ability to choose their mode of instruction. This helps them stay motivated through keeping the lessons new and interesting, and it also helps them learn to identify what works best for them. Also, young students and even high school students appreciate a time to apply what they learn in the traditional classroom to help them enjoy play time.