Debra Davis, PhD
In Extension, we are lifelong learners and we provide learning opportunities for people at every stage of the age spectrum—children, youth, adults and seniors. In order to be effective at this, we must have a variety of tools in our toolbox. One such tool is the effective use of learning activities that engage the learner and reinforce key ideas. Sometimes these learning activities may be games. Although many of us like to play games outside of work, some of may think that games are child’s play and not appropriate for working and actual learning. That could not be further from the truth! Think back to learning experiences you have had as an adult. The one’s I remember most are those that were fun. I REMEMBER those experiences…those times when I was somehow ENGAGED in learning.
Melissa wrote a few weeks back about using questioning as one tool to engage the learner. In that post she related various types of questioning techniques to Bloom’s Taxonomy and demonstrated how you could use them at every level of learning—knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation. Presentation games or learning activities can be used in much the same way to:
- Engage the learner and make learning fun
- Reinforce learning while focusing on a single idea, skill or process
- Appeal to various learning styles
Learning activities and presentation games can also be used at different points during a presentation for different purposes:
- At the beginning to gauge existing knowledge or to focus learners on a particular topic.
- In the middle to check the learners comprehension (understanding) and to reinforce learning
- At the end to assess the learner’s ability to apply, analyze and synthesize the information
As you begin to think about how you can incorporate some fun into your teaching plan, consider activities which use the basic game principles of REPETTION, REINFORCEMENT, ASSOCIATION and use of SENSES. Not creative in this area? That’s okay. Learning activity ideas abound on the internet. Here are a few to get you started:
Icebreakers/inclusion activities (can be used at any time during the learning process, not just at the beginning).
Quizzes (scroll down to near the bottom for some fun online quizzes related to nutrition and agriculture)
Now…READY, SET, GO and have fun teaching!