I dont know if you have noticed but there are a growing number of people messing about in class, and the strange thing is the person starting it is often the teacher…
This splits into 2 areas
Using games to learn
Now years back I was using simple maths games with my students, one of my favourites being a fighting game where your fighter punched the opponent if you got the question correct (In my adult math class we had a tournament and in one round someone got upset that he lost even though he answered all the questions correctly because the other person also did and went first – he was 42!) A quick google finds lots of math games (this one is a bit addictive).
For slightly more advanced games there is one called Portal that is great for learning physics. And when I was talking to the work experience kid I said – “I bet you could use Sim City to teach a few things”, later I found out I was not the first person to think this and and entire lesson plans are based around http://www.simcityedu.org/.
You might want to try a few games, in your class but if you want to push it further try this video to see just how much games you can fit in one classroom
Making learning a game
People are naturally competitive and even simple things can get them competing, a leaderboard showing what position and points you have vs your (anonymous) classmates get students retaking tests to get their score higher and move up the leaderboard.
Want to try something a little bit more complicated – how do you make Geography really interesting? Use Zombies!
Or use a combination of badges and XP to show students that they are actively working towards something, as described by a teacher I met though a mooc who wants to gamify his next class
Speaking of Badges, these might just be the next big thing in learning (Im thinking in staff training/LD more than in traditional Ed, but I think traditional Ed will get there). I was thinking of digging up some research to support my points, then I found this fantastic bibliography of Badges (its going to take me a while to read up!).
So why are badges so good? Its the proof of small things and with Mozzila’s Backback you can take them with you. Do a one day course on customer care? Badge! 6 month management training course at work “I can Manage Badge”. The fact you can take them with you and they are backed by the issuer has the potential to transform learning and Development. If a University staff member attends my “Collaborative Learning” course, that badge can be used at another University to show they know how to encourage online working. Similarly compliance training – if I have done a data security/manual handling course at one Uni, I probably dont need to immediately do it again if I go to work at another Uni.
For a more detailed discussion of Badges and how these fit in with learning and assessment try this post by Funny Monkey
Returning to the learning – badges will become motivators, decide what you want your students to achieve/aspire to and make badges for that.
And the work experience kid – well here is what he thinks