Comparing digital and board games
to improve on-demand writing skills
If your students are like mine, they potentially spend hours playing digital and online games such as Minecraft, Mario Kart, Just Dance, and Pokemon Go. With so many video gaming choices, kids everywhere are gaming on screens while at home, on the go, and sometimes even at school! I decided to use my students’ strong love for games as motivation for a fun and engaging opinion writing assignment.
Jumpstarting the writing lesson
I wanted students to compare and contrast the pros and cons of digital games versus board games. We started the lesson by having a brief class discussion about both types of games and jotted down some examples of each. Already, the kids were eagerly chattering about which kind of games they thought were more fun and I knew right there I had them hooked!
To focus the rest of the lesson, I displayed a prompt question- “Which type of game is better for you?”
Immediately students were ready to share their opinions. As you might guess, most students insisted that video games were more fun and the better option for them. This was the perfect opportunity for me to teach students how to strengthen their opinions using evidence from a text.
I provided the students with two texts that gave information about digital games and board games. After reading both texts, students gathered evidence by returning to the text to highlight examples, facts, and details to support the opinion they formulated.
Many students read with the intention of finding evidence to support their idea that digital games were better. However, I was surprised that some students actually changed their minds as they read. Based on information they found in the texts, they decided to support the opinion that board games were a better fit for them.
It is greatly beneficial for students to discuss their ideas out loud with others before they ever begin writing! Armed with a slew of information to back-up their opinions about the best types of games, the students sat in small groups sharing reasons for their opinions.
At this point in the lesson, I like to provide other resources so students can gather even more evidence to strengthen their opinions. Since the first resources they encounter during these writing lessons are typically in print form, my go-to additional resources are usually fun, informational video-clips from youtube. Of course, there aren’t many options out there that compare digital and board games, so I did the next best thing…I made my own!
This fast-paced video compares the advantages and disadvantages of video games vs. board games. I would suggest having the class watch it more than once, jotting down notes with ideas from the video that support their point of view.
Helping students organize writing
I always try to provide my students with graphic organizers that are built in such a way as to support them as they organize their writing ideas. The purpose of this lesson’s organizer was to be a scaffolded writing structure. Students transferred their opinion, reasons, and evidence about games on the writing organizer then used it as a guide to write an essay in response to the prompt question- “Which type of game is better for you?”
Evaluating student writing
As students were writing their essays, I also provided a checklist for their reference. The checklist reminds students of skills they need to be sure to write down in the essay. I used our grade-level standards to select which skills to include on the checklist. I like to have two sets of check boxes so that the student can evaluate their own writing along with a peer reviewer or the teacher.
The topic of comparing digital vs. board games really caught my students’ attention! They were engaged all throughout the lesson and were highly motivated to write about a trendy topic they love. The best part was- by following this lesson outline, the students submitted some really thoughtful and well-written opinion essays in response to our gaming comparison assignment!
Happy teaching! ~Tatum
Are you wondering where in the world to find student-friendly texts on this topic?
Don’t worry! We’ve done all the work for you! If you would like the digital vs. board games paired texts (differentiated for a variety of reading levels), graphic organizers, checklists, writing paper, and lesson plans that I used to improve my students’ on-demand writing skills, I encourage you to click on the image below!