Motivating Elementary Students with Games

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In her case study, “Around the World,” Nancy DeFrates-Densch describes Ms. Owen’s attempt at motivating her third grade class with the use of games. The game that is described involves the students moving around the classroom or “around the world.” One student begins by standing by the desk of another and those two students have the chance to answer the question asked by Ms. Owen. The student who gets the question right first moves to the next desk and so on. This game is “played at least once per week [and most recently] using multiplication problems” (DeFrates-Densch, 2008). This time, Ryan is chosen to start the game and quickly moves around the room with each right answer. As the game goes on, the other students in the class begin to get annoyed and bored. Some students draw and others complain that “Ryan always wins [because] he’s just too fast” (DeFrates-Densch, 2008). However, Ryan loves this game. He is obviously a student who has memorized the multiplication table and is happy to be able to show it off. He is proud of himself for doing well and knows that Ms. Owen is also. While the rest of the class “collectively groans” when Mrs. Owen “announces it’s time to play,” Ryan is excited to show off his skills and win the game again (DeFrates-Densch, 2008). The other students in the class don’t feel like they have a chance and “don’t know why [they] even bother” (DeFrates-Densch, 2008). They also may feel like Ms. Owen favors Ryan because they always play the game that he is good at. As far as motivation goes, Ryan seems to be extrinsically motivated to learn the multiplication problems because he wants to reward of winning the game. However, the other students aren’t very motivated to learn them at all, sin... ... middle of paper ... ...real-life problems [or] their lives outside of school” (Meece & Daniels, 2008). To do this, she could read word problems containing multiplication instead of just calling out numbers. This would show the students that they will come across these problems outside of school and, the difference in the format, could give the other student’s a chance at winning. Overall, I think the most important thing is to get the whole class involved and help the students who give wrong answers to understand their mistakes and fix them. The best way to do this might actually be the use of a completely different game. References DeFrates-Densch, N. (2008). Case studies in child and adolescent development for teachers. NewYork, NY: McGraw-Hill. Meece, J. L., & Daniels, D. H. (2008). Child and adolescent development for educators. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

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