*Today’s blog is a guest post by Emily Gillain.

“Ms. Gillain, what are we doing for math today?” a student asks on our walk back to the classroom from recess. I let him know that, “We are playing a game today.”  His eyes get big and he turns to a buddy with a fist pump, “OH YEAH!” The two share their excitement and start to list a few class favorites as they wonder together what the game will be.

Before we even reached the classroom door, the math lesson had already started. The simple prospect of a game pulled them in. They are thinking about the skills they might use and are enticed by the element of surprise. I listen closely to their interaction and I hear them mention a classroom favorite we play called “Cover It Up”. While this was not the game I planned for the day, I know the importance of following a student’s lead. 

So, in the 30 seconds leading to the building door, I quickly make adjustments in my mind as to how this game will fit our current math focus. I have an idea about which items to collect as the kids take their winter gear off. Now, I feel their same rush of excitement to try a favorite classroom game with this new twist.

In the cubby area, the news spread quickly, and 17 five-year-olds rushed in ready to take their turn. They see a mat laying in the middle of the rug with 10 bumpy objects hiding underneath. 

I was RIGHT! Cover it up!” says one excited student.

Not Just for Kids

In any setting, when you teach someone something new, it is important to begin with a concrete introduction to the topic before you dive deeper. This means having a chance to touch, feel, and explore the information before reading the ten page essay about it. 

Games provide this exact experience. When you turn your introduction into a fun game, the concept has a reference point and is now a memorable and fun moment to recall. Consider leading your next lesson with a purposeful game. You can even use this method to teach a workshop to your colleagues or give a presentation at a conference. 

Playing Games With Teachers

I am not the only teacher with a back pocket full of games. My video team and I are on a mission to discover and interview the best teachers out there who are leading their students with love, passion and of course fun games. Join me on this journey through my video series Playing Game With Teachers

Each month, I interview a new teacher who is doing incredible work in their school. We engage in meaningful conversation about the pains and gains of education while they teach me a new game. Teachers make big contributions to our world. My hope is that by putting them in front of the camera to share their stories, we can bring more value and recognition to our whole teaching community! 

Teach With Science

My name is Emily Gillain and Teach With Science is where you can find me. All teachers are on their own scientific journey of teaching, discovery and growth. My mission is to help teachers tell their individual learning stories as a way to benefit our whole teaching community.

You can follow my teaching journey on instagram @teachwithscience. To get involved with the Playing Games With Teachers video project, reach out to info@teachwithscience.org

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