Cougar Way games distract students from late start lessons
Late starts. A Tuesday, once or twice a month, where school starts at 9:35 a.m., leaving students feeling refreshed after much-needed sleep, and teachers grudgingly attend meetings before the school day.
On late start days, Cougar Way lessons are scheduled at least once a month. These are lessons designed to teach students important life skills, such as working collaboratively or appreciating other cultures, most of which are learned through a presentation and a dreadful game.
The lessons’ curriculum, while necessary for safety reasons and common human decency, shouldn’t include the interactive games students awkwardly engage in. Cougar Way lessons should just stick to being informative.
Cougar Way lessons are decided upon by a committee, and using games is a way to steer away from a usual lecture, according to counselor Austin Sobey.
“The decisions about what each lesson covers and which month to place it in are gathered from the collective minds of students, staff members and administrators who work together to determine what is best for our student population,” Sobey said. “An effective lesson has to have a good balance of information and interaction which makes the information students learn more likely to be retained and reflected on.”
While a game might seem like a break needed by students, it could actually detract from their attention rather than focus it on the lesson. As Kahoot’s lobby music blares like a siren in the background, students painstakingly take out their iPads to act as a barrier as they whip out their phones and endlessly scroll.
There’s also the issue of students not being able to retain information after the lesson due to the frustration of participating in an activity they weren’t interested in. Irritating memories tend to be seared into our brains, so being in a Kahoot game about internet safety will be remembered more for the pain of playing it rather than the information learned.
Teachers are people too, so taking time out of their day to prepare for the games along with the lesson will do more harm than good. Time that would better be spent either grading papers, planning for lessons, or simply enjoying themselves in the workplace has to be put on hold to achieve blank stares and faces illuminated by phone screens.
In classes where these lessons aren’t well-received, students aren’t building relationships with friends and other staff members; instead, they are strengthening their committed relationship to their phones. Students don’t always appreciate the effort teachers put into practicing or reviewing the lessons, and games being cut out of the lesson would make it less of a hassle for everybody. By eliminating the game aspect, students are more likely to absorb the information, especially if other interactive methods are used to engage them.
Students would be more receptive to interaction if they are rewarded for participating in a discussion after the lesson. For example, if there are giveaways or prizes, students will be more willing to participate. Because they are also contributing to a discussion, it would make them pay attention to the lesson more, and they would become better participants, as well.
It would also be helpful to incorporate polls or surveys at the end so that student feedback can help the committee creating the lessons be more aware of how students are learning and to improve them for the future.
It’s true that if students aren’t really taking in the information from the lessons, then that falls on them. And using a game may help to break up the monotony of information flow. But if the games are uninteresting to students in the first place, continuing to play them will lessen their attention span even more over time. When alternatives for interacting with an audience are available, falling back on the same method will continue be less effective than the time before. Using games isn’t the “end all be all.”
Currently, students will continue to zone out and have the urge to reach for their phone while a game of Gimkit or Kahoot waits for players to join. If games are erased from the Cougar Way lessons, then it will give students a chance to gain new information without the actual meaning of the lesson being lost through it.
Having a voice and leaving feedback will make the lessons more enjoyable. Change is for the best, and in this case, it just might make a difference.