Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Gaming to Communicate

I like playing board games. And card games. And guessing games. And logic games.

I like games.

I try to use games in my teaching as often as possible. Not the "made for the classroom" games that seem to take much of the fun out of playing a great game, but games like 99 (a great card game that also reinforces Math skills), Word on the Street (spelling! tug-of-war!) or Morphology Jr (an excellent combination of building, charades and guessing). I also really value the days during the year when I have time to play other, less obviously academic, games with my students. Ghost Blitz and Squashed were crowd favourites last year.

This year, I've decided to try something new to build a strong classroom community. I am hosting once-a-month Games Nights for students and their parents. The guidelines are simple : students must come with at least one parent or guardian, parents or guardians must come with at least one student. No cost. No commitment. No RSVP. Whoever shows up can play whatever games they want.

Tonight was the first night. Only one of my students attended, with her mother. Their game request? They both wanted to learn how to play Settlers of Catan. We spent a highly enjoyable time playing together, and I feel as though I know a lot more about that particular student from watching her interact with her mother, and from observing how she plays games.

I am very much looking forward to future Games Nights - sometimes there will be only two guests, other times there may be many more. Either way, I think this is going to be a great opportunity to create connections with parents whose only contact with the school up to this point may have been phone calls or emails about missing homework assignments or discipline problems. If I can get parents to have fun with me, those more difficult conversations may become ever so slightly easier.

And, of course, I'm just always looking for someone to play games with me ;-)

Photo credit: http://www.ubcieee.org/events/boardgames2015