Learning by playing is a fundamental instinct for humans and harnessing this instinct can be very powerful. This principle is the foundation for game-based learning; however, games are often used in shallow ways that act as a mere band-aid attempting to salvage poor student engagement. (For more on general best practices behind game-based learning, check out Edutopia’s terrific blog.)
One important element to leveraging games successfully is determining what to offer as an appropriate classroom reward. Vicki Davis explores this concept in her article 5 Ways to Design Effective Rewards for Game-Based Learning. She makes many great suggestions; one, in particular, deserves closer inspection to understand how to create rewards that work for all learners.