School presentation games allow students to participate in the material as they are learning it, thus engaging them on a deeper level than if they were simply sitting and listening to a professor lecture. Games can be facilitated by either fellow students or the teacher and do not have to have a competition element, but should wholly engage students' attention.
Getting Students' Attention
Getting the attention of the students can be the most difficult part of teaching. Engage students with a game to get their attention before you even present your lesson plan by asking them to stand up and participate in physical exercises. The exercises may or may not have anything to do with your lesson, but should get students up and moving. Ask students to turn to their partners and ask them three questions and present the answers to the class or stand in a circle and say their names with an accompanying bodily gesture that the class will have to repeat.
Re-enforce what students are learning by asking them to act out the lesson plan. This may include asking students to do a dance simulating the movement of the elements of the cell in mitosis, acting out a scene from a book you are reading or asking students to play a role from history. Students should be in charge of creating the scene they will act out to keep them engaged, making sure they stick as close to the original text or story as possible.
Find out where students are in their learning by introducing physical games for them to play. Use a version of "Red Light, Green Light" by having students line up on one side of the classroom and answering multiple-choice questions based on the material. Students will raise their hands, voting for each answer. When you have gone over all of them, have the students who got the question right move forward two steps. The student who gets to the other side of the classroom first will "win." You can also play variations on "Simon Says" by having the students play completely in a foreign language, utilizing the words they are learning.
Before beginning a lesson, ask students to write down what they know about the topic you are about to teach. You can place them in groups of four or five and have a group leader discuss the main points of what the students know. This will help you get an idea of where you need to begin with your material. Other non-physical games include tasking the students with making word searches or crossword puzzles of vocabulary words, then exchanging them with one another to complete another student's puzzle.
Writing since 2008, Fiona Miller has taught English in Eastern Europe and also teaches kids in New York schools about the Holocaust. Her work can be found on Overstock.com, ConnectED and various other Web sites. Miller holds a B.A. in French from Chapman University and an M.A. in educational theater from New York University.