We've all played some form of games at one time or another. A game of cards or Triominoes over breakfast is a daily ritual for me. (Not sure if it helps with digestion but a good way to get the grey matter ticking over for the day.) Besides the entertainment or frustration element, games offer a mulitude of opportunities for learning. Over the years I've used games to develop literacy & numeracy skills and concepts. Why games? They're FUN and this medium is a non threatening method for reluctant learners and / or people with delayed learning issues to become involved in their learning.
Take reading the instructions for instance. How do people with limited literacy skills ever read instructions? They don't! Usually someone else does the reading and interpreting. From my observations people in these situations always orally learn the game rules. How to overcome this? I've used graphical cues and PowerPoints to assist when introducing a new game. Also, prior to introducing the game I would develop a glossary of terms related to the game. Students would use an online dictionary to assist with pronunciation and meanings.
Scoring is the most obvious numeracy activity but some games offer a broader numeracy experience, for example: Blokus - spatial awareness; darts - subtraction from 501 and multiplication; Triominoes - addition and subtraction; Monopoly - handling money and operations (+, -, x).
Today's adult classes are all about improving a person's literacy & numeracy to enable them to get a job. How can games help to get a job? First and foremost they assist people to develop interpersonal skills. One critera all jobs require today is - able to work in a team. Yes there may be dummy spits during games, but overall participants want to be involved and usually pick up the dummy and play on. You need strategies to play games and these may include: working from what you have (known) to improve your position (unknown); cause and effect - if you play this card or tile then your playing partners / opponents won't be able to move or play a specific card; problem solving - which card / piece / tile to use.
Let's get to it! Find a game, have FUN and learn!
Most jobs today require some level of computer literacy. During the course of my teaching I have worked with adults and youth who needed to improve both their overall literacy and computer skills. Most youth can access the internet and play games but when it comes to using specific software their skills can be very limited.
I have found the best strategy for introducing 'technophobe' adults to the computer is peer tutoring. Some older students coming into the class were unable to find the ON button for the computer, let alone access a program. Involving students who had been in the class for a longer time and undergone the computer lessons broke down the barriers faster than class sessions with myself or the tutor. What was the 'kerching' moment? On most occasions it was the peer tutor's own story of wrestling the technology into submission.
The second strategy was using the data project to slowly guide the student through procedures in 'real time'. It's time to bring out the MOET when a 64 year old student, who was computer illiterate when he started the class, can produce word documents that include: tables, computer generated graphs, graphics and footers. This did take a few months and he still typed with one finger, but the published work was fantastic.
The third strategy is very personalised and not always achieveable. CUT THE FINGER NAILS! One woman finally explained her aversion to using the computer was breaking or chipping a nail. Here I hit a brick wall and could only suggest voice recognition software to save the sculptured horny plates. At least, by the end of her course, she was tentatively typing with two fingers and accessing the internet. Success can come in drips and dollops.