Games, Contests & Puzzles: Entertaining Ideas for Educating Students

Introduction

Teachers can take heart in the good news that students are likely to make meaningful progress toward instructional goals when they engage in regular drill, practice, and review of academic material. Instructors must also face the bad news, though, that students often find such activities to be tedious and not motivating. One powerful strategy that successful teachers use to lend interest to academic drill, practice, and review is to structure these learning opportunities so that they contain elements of 'fun.' Like most of us, students are engaged by game-like tasks that are novel or unexpected, include various rewards, foster a safe level of competition, or promote positive and cooperative social interactions.

The focus of this issue of the Practical Teacher will be to present some ideas on how to adapt common games to promote student learning, to change quiz formats to make them more enjoyable, and to introduce other classroom activities that educate students in an entertaining manner. While these strategies may appear to be designed simply to be fun, don't be misled. Each strategy has the potential to push students to take a more active role in recalling and applying previously taught academic content.

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