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Ten Reasons My Students Play Lots of Games

I have been fascinated with the brain and how it works for years now. 
 
I do a whole lot of reading about the brain. I have a ton of books about the brain and learning. I follow several online journals and newsletters, and make note of any articles that have something to do with the brain and how it works.
   
Ten Reasons My Students Play Lots of Games - This post gives reasons based on brain research on why students should be playing games in the classroom.


Here are some of the things I've learned about the brain:



Ten Reasons My Students Play Lots of Games - This post gives reasons based on brain research on why students should be playing games in the classroom.

1. Practice Makes Permanent! We know that “Practice Makes Perfect” is a fallacy since we know if a child practices something incorrectly, he learns it incorrectly.  Whatever they practice needs to be accurate so the child learns it correctly. (I’m sure you know how hard it is to break a bad habit!) Games can be played over and over, giving the children plenty of opportunities for practice! 


Ten Reasons My Students Play Lots of Games - This post gives reasons based on brain research on why students should be playing games in the classroom.

2. Practice with Feedback is even better!  As the 
children work in pairs or small groups, the teacher or the partner should immediately say the correct answer if it’s not given. That feedback is essential! I emphasize partners checking answers during game playing.


Ten Reasons My Students Play Lots of Games - This post gives reasons based on brain research on why students should be playing games in the classroom.

3.  The Brain is a Parallel Processor! Brains are 
much more likely to remember something if the learner 
uses more than one process.  If the children are 
looking at the fact, saying the fact out loud, and making gestures or moving manipulatives on the tens frame, 
they are more likely to remember the information than if they just looked at it. I expect my students to say say facts out loud during game play.


Ten Reasons My Students Play Lots of Games - This post gives reasons based on brain research on why students should be playing games in the classroom.

4. Brains Need Social Interaction!  When children work together, they are keeping the brain happy. Social interaction is HUGE when it comes to learning! 

Ten Reasons My Students Play Lots of Games - This post gives reasons based on brain research on why students should be playing games in the classroom.
5. Emotions play a big role in memory! A little healthy competition gets the blood moving, bringing oxygen to the brain and helping the memory do its thing. They sure love to win! (But make sure they know how to lose as well!)

Ten Reasons My Students Play Lots of Games - This post gives reasons based on brain research on why students should be playing games in the classroom.

6. Brains remember patterns! If you organize information 
by patterns, it helps! An example might be learning math facts by fact family or sight words by word family. These two fact fluency sets are based on patterns.  Brain Friendly Addition and Subtraction Fact Fluency and Brain Friendly Multiplication and Division Fact Fluency


Ten Reasons My Students Play Lots of Games - This post gives reasons based on brain research on why students should be playing games in the classroom.

7. Brains remember colors!  Seriously! Using color 
helps the kiddos remember! The above fact fluency systems are color coded for better learning!


Ten Reasons My Students Play Lots of Games - This post gives reasons based on brain research on why students should be playing games in the classroom.

8. The Working Memory can hold 2 to 4 chunks of information at a time! This is why I suggest starting many games with just some of the cards, not all the cards at once!


Ten Reasons My Students Play Lots of Games - This post gives reasons based on brain research on why students should be playing games in the classroom.


9. A little bit each day is more productive than a lot, 
once a week! I like to spend 5 minutes a day with 
math facts games, 5 minutes a day practicing sight words games, etc. This is so much more valuable than a half hour once a week!


Ten Reasons My Students Play Lots of Games - This post gives reasons based on brain research on why students should be playing games in the classroom.

10. Music helps the brain organize data! It is recommended that appropriate background music is played during practice times. When possible, play music during game time! It really makes a difference!

Some other blog posts about games:

Ten Easy Learning Games -  Here are some easy ways to make learning fun, and all you need are some games you probably have on hand!


Playing Math Games to Strengthen Important Skills: This post tells why it's important to play math games, and has some suggestions on how to teach them and what to play!

Practice Makes Permanent and Games Make it Fun! Sometimes kids just need to drill something until they've got it. This blog post describes a fun game that makes practice more fun! (Plus a freebie!)

A Fun Way to Review Basic Information: This is a great end-of-the-year, beginning of the year, or anytime game, with suggestions on how to use it.


Strengthen Math Skills - Some information about how games strengthen math skills, and ideas for games, including 2 freebies!



Doesn't this make you want to play games?




Ten Reasons My Students Play Lots of Games - This post gives reasons based on brain research on why students should be playing games in the classroom.




Ten Reasons My Students Play Lots of Games - This post gives reasons based on brain research on why students should be playing games in the classroom.

Quick, Easy, and Honest Feedback!

Brain research tells us that honest feedback is essential in order for learning to happen. Common sense also tells us that children need to know if they're on track.
 
 
Quick, Easy, Honest Feedback: Here's an idea that will save time in the classroom, make your life easier, and give the kiddos the information they need to grow!
 

I make a point to give honest feedback whenever I can.


On written work, I use 4 highlighters: red (or pink), yellow, green, and purple.
Quick, Easy, Honest Feedback: Here's an idea that will save time in the classroom, make your life easier, and give the kiddos the information they need to grow!

Here's how it works:

 
If I highlight the child's name in green, that means they're doing just what's expected, they're right on track!

If the child's name is highlighted in yellow, that means he's on track, but needs to be careful about something. (I usually write a little note to let them know.)

If the child's name is highlighted in red (or pink), that means stop! There's a problem here. (We usually have a little conversation.)

But there's one more: if a child's name is highlighted in purple, that means his work is above and beyond expectations. Purple represents royalty, so I'll often bow to these children! 
Quick, Easy, Honest Feedback: Here's an idea that will save time in the classroom, make your life easier, and give the kiddos the information they need to grow!

For most papers, like homework, the only mark I make is the highlight at the top of the paper. Sometimes I'll focus on a specific skill, and make a note and highlight about that topic or skill. In the spelling papers below, I focused on the correct formation of the lower case m.
 
Quick, Easy, Honest Feedback: Here's an idea that will save time in the classroom, make your life easier, and give the kiddos the information they need to grow!
Then, of course, I'll find a little something spectacular that a child has done, and I'll make a point to make a purple star right on that part of the paper. 

I often hold up these papers for the children to see. The next day, many children are doing the same thing on their papers. It's amazing how happy it makes the children to get a little positive attention!

On the paper below, I've made purple stars for children showing their work in math. 
Quick, Easy, Honest Feedback: Here's an idea that will save time in the classroom, make your life easier, and give the kiddos the information they need to grow!

Well, there you go! It's easy to remember. It cuts back on my correcting time AND it gives the children the honest feedback they need! 
 

I hope you find this bright idea helpful!


Quick, Easy, Honest Feedback: Here's an idea that will save time in the classroom, make your life easier, and give the kiddos the information they need to grow!


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