Monday, March 05, 2012

Creating Educational Games Online

I've been a member of Quia for a few years (off and on) and promote it to my students for review prior to a test. It's also great for students who have gaps in their skills or need extra practice to make use of the fact that I've paid for an annual membership there. You don't need to buy a membership to play the activities at Quia. What the membership allows you to do is to create your own activities, copy and modify activities others have made, and otherwise customize the learning games for your own students. Being a bit of a control freak, I find it's worth the money, provided my classes have access to the computer lab on a more or less regular basis. If you are less picky about the content perfectly matching your theme or being at exactly the right level for your students, by all means be a freeloader take advantage of the work other educators around the world have already done for you! I have aspirations of making better use of Quia activities using uploaded audio files and images, but have only dabbled around with these tools so far.

Lately, I've been playing around with a new learning game web site. I am getting to better understand the web site Zondle through their video tutorials. This is a free site where teachers can create their own educational games, and students can access it for free as well. It is more image-based and appealing to tweens (according to my students). Here is an example of a game at Zondle:

zondle - games to support learning

What I find really cool about Zondle (aside from it being free for teachers to use their own original content and questions for games) is that it is perfect for short attention spans and a variety of interests. You only need to enter a set of questions ONCE and students can pick which game they want to play, based on that content. If a student gets bored with a particular theme he or she can change it. They don't want to play my fishy game any more? Well how about one where you dress your own pizza? Or win chances to throw a javelin by answering the questions correctly?

Another site I feel like I haven't exploited fully yet is Quizlet. I've been creating the odd set of flash cards for my students' use there for about four years now, but have yet to fully commit to incorporating the tools this site has to offer in my teaching practice. I do like the game Scatter that you can play with any set of "flashcards." I find it is similar to the Fly Swatter game we play sometimes in class.

Here is one I set up for my grade 8 animal unit from the Pearson Education textbook On Y Va 2.

Image of Quizlet grade 8 Core French unit vocabulary review - TeachingFSL



Not exactly higher-level critical thinking, but if it keeps the learners engaged for a period of time while they are getting familiar with new vocabulary, I think it's worth the time it takes to set up a set of cards. I'm particularly interested in those applications that take it up a level, beyond just pure memorization and would love to hear have you used these educational games in your second language classroom!

10 comments:

  1. Very enlightening, thanks Tammy! I'll have to play around with them some more; I must say, I am a HUGE fan of QUIA also! :)

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  2. I also use Quizlet, and link directly for my classes through their Edmodo accounts, it is perfect!!!

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  3. Cynthia Jozin2/09/2013 10:57 am

    I set up a couple of quizlet reviews for a vocab. test we just had in gr. 9... OMG!!! The competition was fierce ! They loved it! Prizes for the top 5 scores and bonus points on the test (which they all aced because they actually 'studied' by playing the games) ! I am def. going to try the zondle site! Merci beaucoup!

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    1. I have no idea how I failed to reply to these messages! So sorry about that.

      Thanks so much for sharing your experiences! I love to hear about what works with different setups, because we all know that in a perfect world, we could make whatever we want work... but that's not always the case. So glad to hear it motivated your students, Cynthia!

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  4. Hi Tammy. I just wanted to mention that I enjoy your site very much and appreciate your posts!

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    1. Thanks very much! SO sweet of you to take the time to comment. :-)

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  5. "Free-loading" is a bit harsh! We as teachers should not be in it to make money off of each other, but appreciate the time and effort it takes to plan amazing lessons and be proud...regardless of getting paid for it or not. You one day too will "free-load" and appreciate the teacher who did not expect anything in return...all jokes aside..

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    1. I respectfully disagree that what I said was harsh. First, it was meant as a joke. Secondly, of course I have been there, where I was glad to have colleauges help me out in a pinch. Multiple times. I only try to help out in return. If there was any malice at all in what I said, it was because there are a few rare souls out there who take & take, but don't share back (or if they do try to share, it's essentially by passing on something for free that they took all of 3 seconds to photocopy or cut & paste... no more effort than that. With that, I do have an issue. Thirdly, In my post I did state that I used to pay an annual fee to Quia to be able to use & customize their site, but have since decided it's not a good value for my own teaching needs - especially when there are free options. Everyone LIKES free, of course. Even me!

      For that reason, 14 out of 50 "products" available in my TPT "store" are totally free, not to mention the many other items and ideas I've shared for free on my blog.

      That being said, I am sorry that you took offence at my statement, and welcome all feedback that contributes to meaningful dialogue.

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  6. There's no denying the appeal that online games have on kids.

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  7. Thanks for your web site. I am enjoying looking at it. I am an FSL teacher for 15 years in Ontario. I am very burned out. My board does 30 minute classes (a decision made by my local ETFO that harms French teachers instead of helping them).
    I have had 2 principals in the last 2 years. The first didn't want me using quia games I custom made for my Visages units because she said all the kids did was click randomly. My current principal won't let me show French videos to the kids 1x weekly (like Telefrancais) because she says they are not communicative enough or outdated. My kids learned a lot of French songs and about children in France from those videos.

    I hate my job.

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