All games are not created equally. Some games engage players in 3-D environments that motivate them to think strategically and logically, some help players recall basic facts, while others role-play in multiplayer games (Hirumi, 2010). There are so many different ways games give teachers the opportunities to differentiate in the classroom.
First of all, games have levels: easy, medium, and hard. The teacher can choose where to place their student based on their level. Another way games provide opportunities for differentiation in the classroom, is students are able to work at their own pace. I use Reflex Math and Raz Kids with my students. They don’t move onto the next level, until they have mastered the previous one. These games, Raz Kids in particular, provide additional supplements, like modeled fluency, comprehension questions, lesson worksheets, and voice recording, to name a few (Raz-Kids).
According to Hirumi, games can be applied at various levels to aide in curriculum. Teachers can choose how to integrate gameplay into their content. The first level is the event level, which are games played to address one or more instructional events within a lesson(s). In Level II, the lesson level, students play to complete the instructional lesson. In Level III, which is the unit/module level, students play to complete a unit, across lessons. In Level IV, which is the course level, students play an entire course that is all the lessons and units. And lastly, level V, which is the program level, where students complete the game requirements and are eligible for certificates. Students have to complete each level before moving onto the next.
Teachers are given different opportunities on how they implement game play, based on their students’ needs supported by Gagne’s Nine Events of Instruction (Hirumi, 2010). “Each of Gagné’s nine events is associated with and designed to facilitate a specific step in the cognitive information processing theory of learning and should be addressed to facilitate achievement of the objectives…” The nine events according to Hirumi are:
- Gaining learners’ attention
- Informing learners of objectives
- Recalling prior knowledge
- Presenting stimulus (Content information)
- Providing learning guidance
- Eliciting performance
- Providing feedback
- Assessing performance
- Enhancing retention and transfer
Gagne’s events are teacher-directed, which offers opportunities for differentiation, by the teacher being responsible for specifying objectives, selecting, organizing and delivering the content, defining student assessment and making sure students apply that knowledge.
Lastly, games provide opportunities for differentiating in the classroom through cognition. “Gameplay has cognitive benefit because games have shown to improve attention, focus and reaction time… games have motivational benefit and induce positive mood states,” (Shapiro, 2014). Not only do games help with differentiation, but also it improves behavior.
Games provide many opportunities for differentiation in the classroom. It helps students recall basic information, it allow students to go at their own pace, they offer additional supplements like assistive technology and they go by levels. Games are beneficial and help with differentiating instruction in the classroom.
Hirumi, A., & N. (2010). Playing Games in School Video Games and Simulations for Primary and Secondary Education. Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/docs/excerpts/gaming-excerpt.pdf
Ossola, A. (2015, February 26). Teaching in the Age of Minecraft. Retrieved February 25, 2016, from http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/02/teaching-in-the-age-of-minecraft/385231/
Raz-Kids. (n.d.). Retrieved February 16, 2016, from https://www.raz-kids.com/
Shapiro, J. (2014, June 13). Benefits of Gaming: What Research Shows. Retrieved February 25, 2016, from http://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2014/06/13/benefits-of-gaming-what-research-shows/