Aga and Dales Blog


♤Playing cards♧ in the classroom♢

  • Posted By Aga and Dale
  • On 24th January 2019

Playing cards in the classroom
My greatest challenge while teaching is to engage learners, making the subject interesting and practical.
A training course in a classroom is slightly different from a traditional workplace, in that in the classroom people don’t necessarily know each other, so sometimes, communication hardly happens.
In the classroom people don’t always carry out tasks with confidence and the expertise of their “shop floor” activities. In the classroom people often learn things that they cannot relate to anything that they know, instead they do their best to memorize ‘stuff’ that everyone else considers “significant”. But, depending on the course and its level, this ‘stuff’ can grow and grow not only in size but difficulty or complexity too. For some individuals it can turn into a daunting experience, like pulling out a decayed tooth; it’s good once it is out but until it happens, the experience is not one to look forward to’. 
The idea of playing cards is to ease any discomfort and counteract any negative outcomes that could result from the above. ‘Definition cards’ for subjects such as Food Safety or HACCP (from HIGHFIELD Qualifications) at different levels appear to be quite a useful tool to meet the needs of the group and individuals.
Played at the beginning of the course, during the day, at the end of the day/course or at home, the cards start engaging people in conversation, cooperation, collaboration and even discussion. Played in pairs (that would change with each round) they encourage people to get to know each other, learn from each other as each person would have a slightly different set of experiences and knowledge so they would be able to answer different questions. People also realize that, actually, the content of what they are going to learn is not completely new to them. Learners are often familiar with parts of it from their work practice and while looking for matching answers they would suddenly realize how much they already know, and what they don’t know. Throughout the session/course they will discover ‘stuff’ for themselves and close the knowledge gaps within individual contexts, at their own pace, with another round of cards. The ‘card experience’ creates a more relaxed but focussed atmosphere of learning where learners challenge themselves and utilize each other’s knowledge and skills to move ahead.
By the time learners get to their exam, they are confident with the new learning that actually fits well within their existing system of knowledge and understanding.
What can be better than learning something that makes sense?  
It works in our classroom and our learners, perhaps it is worth giving it a go?

To find out more about the theories used in this article, have a look at the following books:
Hattie, J. & Yates, G. (2014) Visible Learning and the Science of How We Learn. London: Routledge.
Petty, G. (2014) Teaching Today. 5th edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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