6-A-4: Blogical Discussion “Gaming in the Classroom”

On average, children spend about 7 hours using entertainment media in one day. They are continuously multitasking between devices as they listen to music, play games, and communicate through social networking. Video games tend to include every kind of digital content- music, text, video, and pictures, which makes them really engaging for children.

 As teachers, we are always trying new tools to enhance the motivation and engagement in our classroom. A new trend is using video games for educational purposes inside the classroom. Teachers who have begun using games in the classroom are finding that video games are teaching their students critical thinking and problem solving skills. They also can be engaging and motivating for the students.

 Because students are so tech savvy, it only makes sense to incorporate these tools into the classroom setting. As you think about this topic and your current teaching placements, please choose one question below and share your thoughts and opinions about gaming in the classroom.

 1- Do you currently use games in your classroom to motivate and engage your students? If so, share what you do in your classroom.

 2- Can you discuss any of the benefits or drawbacks that teachers and students may face when implementing gaming for educational purposes.

3- Do you think you would encounter resistance from parents or administrators if you begin to implement gaming in your classroom? How could you handle the resistance?

 4- Can you share video games that you have found valuable to students and explain why they have value within the classroom setting.

 I am looking forward to hearing what you all have to say!!

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10 thoughts on “6-A-4: Blogical Discussion “Gaming in the Classroom”

  1. Last year kids used Minecraft and Scratch. Minecraft was a game many of the kids played outside of school and they brought it in (started playing on the computer) as a choice time activity. Skilled players made interested others knowledgeable and outside and inside communities made connections. When we visited another school, the students even discovered they knew a few of the students because conversations turned to Minecraft and some kids were players in that community. One aspect of the game the kids knew they needed to avoid in a Quaker school was combat. They managed to do that without adult reminders and intervention. They brought to my attention that combat was not part of what they would do in the class and made it known the things they were choosing to do in class were peaceful and respectful of school values. There were some kids who knew parents had some objections to the game and they avoided playing it opting for other games like Chess or math computer games. Another game kids enjoyed was Scratch. There is a big Scratch community in the school. Kids were able to have cross grade experiences. Scratch is actively taught in computer class so some kids were extending those experiences. I am familiar with this so I could handle some of the questions but my assistance was very rarely sought out or needed. I was usually invited to marvel at something or to learn something cool.

    I personally have not found time to actively teach using gaming as a platform. Fourth graders do not have their own devices at school. When computer lab or other devices are brought into the classroom I have used them for other things. I am not opposed to gaming; it is just a matter of not enough time for all things. I also need to find out more about which games are the best at getting at the skills I want and need to teach. If kids have an interest in something, I think they will spend more time doing that something even if it is assigned for homework or enrichment.

    I definitely witnessed high levels of collaboration and creativity from kids taking part in gaming.
    When I attended Scratch Day I was impressed at how everyone learned, taught and shared no matter what the age or experience level of the participants. Also, there was a definite engagement since participants were choosing to be part of the community. I plan to take a formal course about gaming in the future to learn more.

  2. I am not a classroom teacher anymore but I think that our students spend an inordinate amount of time using media devices for entertainment purposes. There is instant gratification playing on the internet, watching movies, listening to music. or even engaging in video games. It’s amazing to see how savvy and on task students are using media tools. At the same time, these are the students that we have difficulty transitioning to academic tasks that aren’t as engaging. It lends itself to creating behavioral episodes with quite a few students. I think there needs to be a balance of the use of gaming in the classroom. Although it is highly engaging and teaches many skills our students need we still need some basic academic time. There is no reason to have to rely on all the technology tools just because that’s what the students are in to. If it does not benefit the students academically, it’s probably something we don’t need to be using. I’m sure teachers are weighing the pros and cons of using gaming before implementing these practices.

  3. I have used some gaming software to help entertain students with chemical concepts. Thus far, I have to say I’ve used more interactive gaming simulations rather than video games.

    There two major benefits I see to using this type of technology in the classroom:

    1.) The students seem enjoy it because they are comfortable with technology gadgets and the software that goes along with them. Students have told me they sometimes like this method better than listening to a lecture, because using the computer allows them to be more active in their learning process.

    2.) Using this type of technology (computer based images) allows students to understand complicated concepts in chemistry that typically are not visible with the naked eye (e.g., how electrons move about an atom, how molecules interact to break and make bonds, how to describe “pressure” in terms of gas molecules, etc.). The simulations today are very good. I wish I would have some of these available to me when I went to college. They really bring chemistry to life, in a way that makes it much easier to understand.

    Here are two of the interactive simulations I have used (some of them have lots of applications, not just chemistry … science, engineering, math, etc.).

    Molecular Workbench – lots of different kinds of science and engineering “experiments” that teach you concepts as you interact through lessons by manipulating variables. (The lesson on the Gas Laws is very good if you want to check one out)
    http://mw.concord.org/modeler/

    University of Colorado Boulder Simulations – Science, math, engineering, and new research concepts. This website shows you a specific example of how a single concept (not an entire lesson, like MW) works. The Gas Law simulation for this one is very good also.
    http://phet.colorado.edu/

  4. Currently, I use games in my classroom but most of the games I use are not video games. I use a lot of teacher-directed games during my lessons to review content. However, I do use a few Internet-based video games with my students. These games come from the sites of educational programs that my district has purchased. Study Island and Compass Learning Odyssey are two web-based programs that provide opportunities for students to demonstrate their content knowledge by playing video games on the site. These games require students to answer content-based questions in order to successfully complete the game so they are a nice blend of academics and fun. I don’t encounter any resistance with these games, because like I said, these programs were approved and purchased by my district for such purposes. If an administrator walks into my classroom and sees students playing these games, it’s okay because the administrator knows that they are a component of a larger, research-based program. However, if an administrator walked into my room and saw students playing video games on another random site, I think I would have a more difficult time convincing the administrator that the game is a worthwhile endeavor. I’d rather expose my students to gaming sites that have been approved by the whole district, instead of sites that I’ve found. This way, I know going into it that I have the support of my admin.

  5. I think there is a place for gaming in education, but as a small component. You are right in that students today are constantly bombarded with media, and that may have affected their ability to attend to non-stimulating information. There are also some very well thought out games and gaming techniques that can be effective in teaching, such as using badges or an immersive game that sets you in a time period, or gives you control of experiments. While I do agree that students are technologically savvy, my experience is students, like most people, get excited about areas of interests. Schooling is forced upon students so we try to come up with all kinds of ways to motivate them to like learning. Gaming techniques can be a part of that, as well as traditional methods. No matter what, education can not always be about fun and games and we might do better as a nation if we set realistic educational goals and steered students towards areas of interests instead of using a one size fits all mentality.

  6. Jessica,
    Currently, I use games to review before exams. The games that I use, however, are not video games. For examples, review basketball, Hollywood Squares, Jeopardy, etc. For students that need extra practice, I have referred them to internet gaming sites such as coolmath.com or mathplayground.com depending on the level and topic. This is used more as an enrichment resource tool and not as a learning method tool. I have found that using games help to motivate my students through using technology, a popular interest in the majority of my students. A caution I have with gaming is to ensure that the game itself is not taking away from the content being reviewed. With that said, there is value in building technology skills and online skills to using gaming, however, the implementation of the games requires the teachers to focus on the content value and use the gaming as a support for learning.

  7. Mary Lutz says:

    I have taken many PLS classes that have some great examples of games you can play in your classroom. I use some of them, but don’t tend to use any online games for my college students. Our school has a Jeopardy game that is electronic. It has 6 controllers and hooks up to the Smart Board. I think it cost a lot! There are only two of us at the college who use it. It is very time consuming to enter your questions and get it set up on the computer. But, the students love it. I usually do it for review for the final exam.

    The benefits I see are that most students get very involved in it and it is a great way to study. The drawbacks are the time it takes to plan and implement them.

    I think the administration at my school loves it when we use non-traditional teaching methods. Anything that gets the students engaged is good for the school.

    I don’t really have any video games we use in the classroom.

  8. I love this topic! One of my daughter’s favorite teachers created his own games for review of information before tests. My daughter made the greatest strides in his class. To this day she can recite several of the phrases that were parts of the game to remember information. I view it almost like a pneumonic device. I don’t think parents will complain as long as it is educational. I think of how much money I have paid for educational games for her to keep up on her learning, why would I not want to see them used in the classroom. Anything to ensure that she learns.

  9. Blog Discussion Summary:

    I really enjoyed reading everyone’s thoughts, opinions, and experiences when it comes to gaming in the classroom. Overall, you discussed many benefits to using games in the classroom setting. Below is a list of the benefits:
    – building connections
    – sense of community
    – creativity
    – collaboration
    – high engagement
    – great review of content
    – builds technology skills

    Here are some downfalls that were discussed in terms of gaming in the classroom.
    – lack of devices
    – combat in games
    – difficult to find education games that are school approved
    – planning time

    In the end, if we balance gaming with academics, we could inspire and teach students at the same time. I think teachers need to keep in mind that there must be a clear educational purpose for implementing the game. Most importantly, the teacher needs to take all of the students’ needs into consideration. Also if teachers collaborate together, incorporating games could be fun!

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