A couple of months ago I was thinking of how to create a meaningful and innovative speaking activity about sustainable development for my students in my English class. I had been reading about differentiation and gamification as cool strategies within the flipped learning paradigm. Also, I had read somewhere that innovation is not about creating new things as it is to remix what you already do or know. It all became clear to me, as my class is flipped, I have plenty of time to innovate. As my students like to play games, I had to make these ideas converge. So I repurposed the Twister I’ve had sitting on a shelf at home for months and transformed it into a very engaging speaking activity.
I decided to share the planning process of this activity for any of you, my generous readers thinking of what to do tomorrow in class to grab the activity and use it with your students right away. Of course, if you do, tell me how it goes!
I prepared a task sheet (you can find it as a GDoc here so that you can modify it for your own class), I brought the Twister to class and I found a Twister Spinner online. I designed the instructions and rules for my Twister game.
The Instructions were:
The rules for the game were:
Provide clear and complete answers
Speak for one minute
Don’t remove your hand or foot from the designated color until you are told
Students were very enthusiastic about the game as you might see in this video. They liked the mat and the spinner and were connected to the activity. As with any competition game, they got a bit upset when their point wasn’t validated and they had to stay on the mat. However, having a student stay on the mat for more than a turn made the game more enjoyable.
One of the biggest benefits of the game I identified was the depth in the responses of students as rounds passed. At the beginning of the game, students were giving pretty basic answers to the questions asked. However, as we decided we were not “convinced” by those superficial answers, students started to try harder to structure more thorough responses. By the end of the activity, they were providing a thesis statement and supporting it with examples, then they concluded their interventions by paraphrasing or extending their thesis. It was amazing!
I am amazed by the power of gamification. Yu Kai Chou, in his book Octalysis, talks about the 8 core drives of gamification. I realized that the core drive I was tackling with this activity was Epic Meaning. As students noticed their classmates’ and team’s fate depended on their ability to elaborate good responses, they tried hard to provide good responses in order to “rescue” their teammates.
It is not a secret that games are a great tool for classes. I invite you to repurpose those board games you have at home and turn them into amazing communication opportunities. My friend Martha Ramirez has repurposed her Jenga, Pachisi and UNO as amazing pronunciation activities. You can also use anything you have at home to move your students and invite them to see learning is fun! I invite you to share what you do in your class! All of us can benefit from each other’s lessons! Happy playing!
Chou, Yu-Kai (2014-2016) Actionable Gamification. Beyond Points, Badges and Leaderboards. LearnPub.
I want to thank my English 3 students whose motivation and engagement in my class have pushed me to become more creative and innovative. You guys make my life better!