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Around the World: Fun is Not Best

it's fun but around the world game

Around the World Game

Had an interesting Twitter chat where the game “Around the World” was brought up. In this game, the students would sit at their desks or in a circle. (My teachers always had us at our desks.) One student stood next to another student and the teacher asked a question. The first one to answer moved to the next student and stood beside them. This pattern continued.

Let me be clear

Fast is not the same as smart.

I think many of us had a lot of fun playing around the world. It certainly was better than sitting at our desks filling out worksheets. Games are fun. But how much LEARNING is taking place.

I was feeling pretty great if I could get through several rounds before I had to sit down. However, how did every student who did not get a chance to stand up feel?

During the game how many students are actively engaged in the activity at a time? Two. Two out of 30 is about 7%.

Games are Great

Research shows that games can be one of the most powerful venues for learning. Games are fun and engaging. We should do them. However, learning is not a competition. The best kind of competition is against ourselves.


A website I am a huge fan of us It is a math website by a Stanford University professor (and other collaborators), Dr. Jo Boaler. In multiple times, back by research, Dr. Boaler has stated that being fast is not the same as being smart. Some very amazing mathematicians are SLOW at calculating math. They think deeply about it. It takes them time. Being put on the spot makes it harder to recall things you know.


Being engaged and having fun DOES improve learning. However, it is important to ask the questions if ALL students are having fun and learning. Research shows it is the quietest students who oftentimes have the most thoughtful answers. Some games we play in class tend to focus on speed rather than quality of thought.

I recently played a game with my high school class where they got to express their opinion on a topic by moving to one side of the room or the other. It was fun. Some students asked to do it again. But what my co-teacher and I noticed is some students were not having fun, they were hanging out at the back with body language that said they were not engaged. The same couple of students were quick to want to make sure they interjected their opinion. We did not hear from everyone. 

One way that I think tech can make learning better is to give EVERY student a voice. I use a spreadsheet ( to give all students a chance to weigh in on their opinion on a topic before we discuss it. Tools like TodaysMeet or 81Dash give all students a chance to respond.

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