I think that it is so interesting and almost kind of funny how oblivious I was to the fact that video games can be a serious part of learning in schools. I always thought that the video games during computer class in grade school were just time fillers, but instead they were beautiful opportunities to learn how to use technology in a smart and educational way, even at a young age. I think that it is really important as an educator to understand what works with your classroom, and what doesn’t. As learned throughout my entire time as an education major at John Carroll, differentiation and knowing your students is one of the most integral aspects of leading a classroom as a teacher. If there isn’t a way in your curriculum that can be adapted and catered to each student, then odds are it is not going to work.
That is why I really like the idea of video games in the classroom. Most educational video games are adaptable and differentiated for each student, whether it be the levels of the game or the different options you can choose as a player that creates a new identity of your own. Video games are a great way to keep students engaged and interested, since it is always really fun to be able to use technology on your own as a student in the classroom.
Here at John Carroll, we learn how to become an intentional teacher. Being an intentional teacher means to have a purpose for everything you do in the classroom, and help the students understand your purpose for teaching as well. Using technology can be a great way to help teachers show how they can be an intentional teacher, and can show students that learning doesn’t always have to be pencil, paper, and a teacher talking at the front of the room! I am really excited to be able to learn more about technology this semester and how I can incorporate it into my own future classroom and curriculums!
According to Matthew Farber and his article, How to Find Games for Classroom Learning, he talks about Gris, the game that Apple picked as the 2019 game of the year. “Gris represents trauma and loss visually; the levels are mapped to stages of grief. It can be used to teach social and emotional learning (SEL) skills, or to teach symbolism to English language arts students” (Farber). Farber also includes that this is not a game with level-up mechanics. Instead, it is a mediated narrative. I really like this idea of a game that can be very beneficial to learning that does not always have to be a competition or a level-up game.
The game Gris is a perfect example of a non level-up game that can be meaningful and educational without the competition that is usually incorporated into educational gaming. On the contrary, my game, Jurassic Zoo, is also a non-level-up game, but it a different sense. Jurassic Zoo is not a social and emotional development game like Gris, it is something that can be used for English curriculum as a part of a lesson plan. I really like the idea of writing up a lesson plan with a video game incorporated into it because it can be a fun and new way for students to learn, as well as a great idea for teachers to be able to give students a task they must complete independently with technology.
As I continue to play Jurassic Zoo, I notice a few more things about the game that I was unaware of before. I noticed that there is not much differentiation incorporated into the games itself. As the game goes on, the levels do not really get harder, and there are only about 6-7 “levels”. I say levels in quotations because to me, they do not seem like they are getting harder, they just seem like it’s a new set of words.
This is something that I did not really notice about the game when I first started playing. I think the game has a good baseline for prefixes and suffixes, and I think that it will help students learn their prefixes and suffixes, but I don’t think that it is a game that can be used for more than one lesson. I think that it is a game that can be used for one day, and if they’d like to go over what they learned in the game, they can refer back to it, but it is basically a one-time played game.
These are the three levels you can start with, the danger zone, the keep order zone, and the friendly zone. Those are the three different types of levels you can choose from depending on the comfortability you are with prefixes and suffixes. Once you press the level, you can get up to 3 more words in the “zone” you’ve picked. But, once you have done that for all 3 zones, the game is over. I would really like to have this incorporated into a one-day lesson because it really can help students figure out their prefixes and suffixes, but like I said, this would not be a game that is revisited after the lesson is over.
Growing up, video gaming was never really incorporated into the curriculum that I had throughout my childhood. We were only allowed to play on coolmathgames.com, but that was during computer class, which we only had once a week. Talking with my group, we saw that there were serious benefits to allowing children to play educational video games.
Some of the most important things that we talked about as a learning community were that video games should be efficient, effective, and of academic rigor for the appropriate grade level. Even so, students aren’t always going to be on the same level as each other, so having differentiation involved in your video game play is vital. We also discussed the importance of comfortability with video games as a teacher. For the students to understand the video game, the teacher must understand it and be comfortable with it as well, or else they will not be able to help the students learn the video game efficiently.
Some take aways from the MindShift article were the research behind games in the classroom. “Game-based learning in the classroom can encourage students to understand subject matter in context, as part of a system. In contrast to memorization, drilling, and quizzing, which is often criticized because the focus is on facts in isolation, games force players to interact with problems in ways that take relationships into account” (Shapiro 8). This was very interesting to me because though memorization is something that we learn very early in education, it is not always the answer. But, when it is almost necessary, gaming is a way to engage the students, as well as also help them practice what they are learning in a fun way.
A website that I had encountered was starfall.com. You can pick which grade level you’d like to start at on the home page. I chose to go to the grades 1,2,3 category, since this semester I will be observing a 2nd grade classroom. I decided to choose 2-3 grade English, and played a game called Jurassic Zoo.
In this game, you would choose the correct prefixes for the words that are given. The dinosaurs would act out the word in a video, and then they would give you the prefix options to choose from to create the new word. I think this would be really great practice for students, because as learned in my phonics course here at John Carroll, a lot of students tend to struggle with choosing the correct prefixes when first learning them. This was not something was challenging for me to complete, but the site offered a lot of fun games for different subjects and grade levels. Overall, I enjoyed this site and could see it being used for practice for some of my future lessons!
- My name is Sara Spicer.
- I am from Lakewood, Ohio
- I really love music and hanging out with my friends and family. I am really passionate about education and I love being around kids. One thing I really love to do is travel to Key West, Florida, and it is my favorite place on earth to visit.
- To feel comfortable taking intellectual and creative risks in a course, I really like to have respectful and mutual relationships with my professors and classmates. This will help me want to succeed in the classroom, as well as help build relationships for future endeavors after my time here at John Carroll.
- An essay that I always find particularly interesting and helpful as a future teacher is The Top Ten Reasons Why Teachers Matter on the Global Teacher Prize. https://www.globalteacherprize.org/fr/nouvelles-et-blogs/the-top-ten-reasons-why-teachers-matter. This essay talks about the different things that teachers can teach their students. One of my favorite things that is written in this essay is “they help underachievers fly and keep overachievers grounded”. There are so many aspects of teaching that can really change a student’s life, such as overcoming their difficult situations that impact their lives inside of a classroom.
- What inspires you the most about being an educator?
No Child Left Behind was implemented in 2001, and has essentially changed the American Education system based on high-stakes test scores. No Child Left Behind gives the state freedom to determine academic standards and test programs as well as requires local school districts to have a school-choice plan for students in failing school districts.
I believe a lot of negatives outweigh the positives with No Child Left Behind. This is because that most of the school’s funding depends on the students’ test scores, therefore the lower the test scores, the less funding that school will receive from the state. I think this is a poor way of distributing money, because if a school is failing based on their test scores, they should be able to get more money from the state to better their supplies, teacher salaries, and overall materials that are needed for a functioning school. A school that has adequate materials and after-school help for high-stakes testing is obviously going to have better test scores than schools that are unable to provide any of those necessities for their students, therefore the failing school should be receiving more money than the other.
It is also difficult to base funding on test scores because something could have happened the night before the ACT in a child’s household that lead them to get no sleep, and end up doing poorly on the test the next morning. Test scores are important to be able to see where students lie on the education scale, but I believe it should not make or break the entire school district’s funding.
In my own experience, I was not able to transfer credits from my high school AP classes because I received two 2’s on my AP tests instead of receiving a 3 to be able to transfer the credits into college. This test essentially erased my entire semester of taking AP classes because I was not able to perform well on the day of the exams, but received A’s in the class overall. I now wasted my junior year of high school taking AP classes when I could’ve taken easier versions of those class and still would not have received college credit.
As educators of the future, it is important that all of the students feel included and recognized in a classroom setting in order to build their characters and become strong adults as they grow older. It is vital to make sure your students feel comfortable when they are in your classroom because a student is not able to learn in an uncomfortable environment, especially one where they feel like they are excluded from the rest of the students.
Elizabeth Meyer writes, “The issue of bullying and harassment is one aspect of school violence that has received a significant amount of attention from the media as well as from school officials and community members.”(16). Student go through a lot during their time in school, such as discovering who their friends are, what their hobbies are, and their own sexuality. As a teacher, it is important to take those things into consideration when managing a classroom because students transform outside of the classroom as well.
Things we can do as teachers is create a “safe-zone” in our classrooms to ensure that students know that they are able to be themselves. It is important that the students know that everyone is different, and everyone has different feelings. Most children repeat what they hear at home, and they come from very different opinions. To avoid students regurgitating offensive opinions that they learn at home, stressing the “safe-zone” is important for students on both sides of the matter. It is important to tell your students that they are able to express their opinions, but they need to do it in a respectful way that does not incite bullying in a classroom.