Since September, we have been using gaming as a way to motivate and engage our students. Being that we are working with at-risk students, many of the Ontario Curriculum expectations are totally irrelevant to them and, in the past, we have struggled finding activities that they will want to do.
Enter the video game. In my research of boys, learning, and school culture, I came across Ali Carr-Chellman’s TED presentation, “Gaming to re-engage boys in learning.” As I had already started the ball rolling with her ideas, I had no problem continuing down the paths that she suggested.
We have been working through Games of the Month since September, mostly with iPad apps. In the coming months, I will begin posting some of the ways we integrated learning into these tasks. However, it is important to remember that learning can take place by just playing the game with a learning goal and purpose in mind.
For example, we began a science fiction, adventure-action game called “Galaxy on Fire 2” this month. Before beginning, we talked about how science fiction is a mix between fiction and non-fiction, talked about student experiences with science fiction, and how the plot of the game will portray the theme. As we play, I point out specific features that we discussed at the beginning on the month. In addition, the students are required to use problem solving, team work, math, and language skills (lots and lots of reading) as they are playing. I explained that we using the video game as if it is an interactive novel.
In addition to playing the game, the students have choice assignments to complete that relate to the game using a variety of tools that they may choose. Some of these projects included:
- creating a movie poster for the game
- creating a space ship using the weapons from the game, followed by an integers, budgeting, and spreadsheet activity
- reading a sci-fi short story and writing a quiz for other students to complete
- researching natural resources of Canada
The students are engaged. The students are learning. Can I ask for anything else?