In some ways traditional education is very similar to games: levels/school grades, points/marks, boss fights / final tests. But what is the key difference? Sid Meier defines the game as a series of interesting decisions. In games, a player is in control of the game and makes meaningful choices. Who makes decisions what to do next in the traditional classroom? In many cases, it is a teacher.
At StudyCraft we give more freedom to our students. Here is one of the examples how you can practice new vocabulary or grammar.
Vocabulary and grammar lessons have a special stage which we call caves. The term goes back to one of StudyCraft first games where students were looking for gold in caves on an isolated island.
At this stage students practise new words or grammar structures in pairs. The role of the teacher is just to facilitate the process. The teacher puts on the table tasks for Caves — written or oral exercises. Only tasks, which students can check by keys, are used for Caves. Each task has its own level of difficulty, i.e. how many points you can earn when you complete the task. The level is marked on the title page by a different number of asterisks: 1 asterisk for the easiest, 3 asterisks for the most difficult. Each task should be done by two students. But only the student with the biggest number of correct answers gets points. Students decide which task to take up taking into account the level of difficulty and the person they want to choose as a competitor. It is important to play 2 or more rounds so that students can think about their strategy. “This student is very strong, I don’t want to compete with him”.
Don’t worry if a student chooses one and the same task several times. At this stage we are focused on teaching and not testing. This is how he or she masters his/her skill. In the first round the student can do only 2 out of 10 sentences correctly. In the second round with the same task his result will become better. In traditional educational system students are unlikely to do one and the same exercise again and again. But if you gamify the task they will be happy to replay it.
This is how we organize work with the Caves.
- Write done the number and page of an exercise, each on a separate piece of paper.
- On the reverse side, draw 1 asterisk for an easy task, 2 — for more difficult, 3 — for the most difficult.
- Put the papers on the table with asterisks facing up.
- Write down the keys for corresponding tasks and place them under the papers with asterisks.
- Announce the first round.
- Ask students to decide which task they want to do. Stress the idea that only 2 students can do each task.
- Students make their choices and put on the task they are going to do a game piece or any other small item, which will represent them.
- Give students a minute and a half to do the tasks in pairs.
- When the time is up, everybody should stop, put down his or her pen. Students swap their papers and check their partners’ works.
- The person in the pair with the biggest number of correct answers wins the points indicated.
- Go for the second round.