Scholastic Administrator - Winter 2011 - (Page 32)
learning,” says Shapiro. Although unique, Shapiro says the approach is working. “We are supergrounded in the standards and learning outcomes. That is what drives the entire curriculum,” she adds. “We take assessment seriously because so many people are skeptical. The only way to combat that is by showing that it’s working.” With the types of computer games used at schools like Quest to Learn, teachers may see kids showing off talents that they don’t usually see in conventional lessons, says Andrew Coulson, president of education for the MIND Research Institute, which produces K–5 math software programs. “Teachers see kids solving problems that are challenges and then raise their expectation bars for the kids. Expecting more for the kids is transformative.” While there are some teachers strongly advocating for the use of video games in the classroom, Bill MacKenty, technology director at the American School of Warsaw, and others know it will take time to catch on. “It will be sort of an organic, homegrown, grassroots movement in education,” he says. “I don’t think you’ll see games as standard practice in five years. There is too much confusion about technology and how games can and cannot work.” Games aren’t fun, though, unless they are challenging. The emphasis on teaching kids to innovate and collaborate holds some promise for games in schools. Aldrich says teachers who are using this approach are on the right side of history. “This is the future,” he says.
‘ Teachers see kids solving problems
—Andrew Coulson, MIND Research Institute
that are challenges and then raise their expectations.’
ment in my classroom. When students are actively participating, they actively learn. Instead of me lecturing about World War II, and watching half of the class space out, when they play the game they are active and then I can teach along the way.” Kids struggle being in a world with no clear-cut answers, says Jeremiah McCall, a history teacher at Cincinnati Country Day School and author of Gaming the Past: Using Video Games to Teach Secondary History. Simulation games require students to learn new skills of collaboration, strategic decision making, leadership, project management, and looking at how systems work. When his students do cost-benefit analyses in games, for instance, and ask what should they do, McCall often responds: “‘I don’t know. What do you think you should do?’ For some people that’s a good jolt.”
6 Video Game Activities
They write a review roundup that sums up the views of the critics plus their own insights.
David Hutchison recommends the following activities in Playing to Learn: Video Games in the Classroom. stu1 CREATE REVIEWERS Thegame. dents compare and contrast two or more reviews of a video
stu2TACTICAL ANALYSIS Theused in dents write about one or more tactics they have successfully a video game. Students prepare a 3THE PITCHpitchbrand-new game, proposal for a which they then to the class. LET Students 4story,STUDENTS PLOTmultiple write a choose-your-own-adventure a narrative with pathways that can then be adapted for use in an adventure video game. GAMES The stu5BEST KIDS’andvideo games. dents rank review their favorite kid-friendly Results can be shown using a variety of charts. STRATEGY GUIDE WRITING The 6students a full video gamestratauthor their own egy guides for or a single mission from a favorite game.
weave games into their classrooms in small doses. Dave McDivitt, a social studies and world history teacher at Oak Hill High School in Converse, Indiana, uses commercial off-the-shelf games in his classroom. In history, he uses Muzzy Lane’s Making History to explain war strategy, and in sociology, The Sims lets students experience various family roles. “It’s a change in the normal routine—it brings a freshness to the class,” says McDivitt. “The game is a tool for me to use to increase students’ engage32
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SCHOLASTIC ADMINISTR ATOR.COM Winter 2011
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