Games for the Brain is a website of quiz, memory, and brain games. A great site to let students explore and play. An ‘All language’ tab is available to change the text to any language, so LOTE and ESL classes can use this site for teaching and learning also.
Gaming could engage students in learning who are failing to achieve the required standards, yet in games are achieving fantastic results. Acknowledging their games and the skills required to play them may be a start. McGonigal talks about Wold of Warcraft, a game that requires great collaborative and problem solving skills where gamers are working to the best of their abilities. It wouldn’t hurt to let a student show the class how a skill they are learning, such as collaborating, is used in a game they are playing. Using components of games, such as exciting epic stories, can be a way to introduce a classroom activity that requires solving a real-world problem. Using web 2.0 tools that allow for global collaboration builds the collaborative community, and allowing students to achieve small goals along the way, may maintain their interest. Embracing gaming is embracing a student’s interest and learning strengths.
‘Lyn finds fun plus learning equals smart kids’ is an interview by the Melton Weekly with the inspirational 2011 Victoria Teachers Credit Union Outstanding Primary Teacher Award Winner, Lynette Barr. Lynette is a teacher at Rosyln Primary School and uses 3D games to provide engaging, authentic learning experiences for her students. Lynette explains how teaching needs to reflect the needs of the students:
You can also view Lynette’s presentation ‘Improving student engagement and relationships’, that was part of the 2010 Innovation Showcase, below:
During the month of May, the game that appeared most often on the screens of the students’s computers at Mooroopna Secondary College’s Library has been Wooden Path 2. It is a logic game where the player has to make a wooden path across the river and move through magical lands. It is a fun game to play, besides the fact that it is in coolmath.com, a student-friendly game site allowed at the school. Check it out, and suggest it to maths teachers and any students looking for something to do of a lunchtime.
Digital Play is a blog by Kyle Mawer and Graham Stanley that provides computer game activities and ideas for, specifically, EFL/ESL teachers to use with their students. Any educator, however, would find something useful on this blog. Their latest post ’10 gaming genres to adapt in class’ provides the gaming genres (such as point-and-click, arcade, and puzzle) and information on how they will help build language skills, with examples of particular games to be used in the classroom.
The blog also provides lesson plans for gaming, that are very indepth plans to bring gaming into the classroom. The plans often include the level, topic, language focus, location for gaming, game details, prepartion, and tasks related to the game. Digital Play is a truly fantastic resource that should be explored and shared with teachers in your school.
March has continued to see tower defense games being played in our secondary school library before school and at lunchtimes (and during class time if they can sneak it). Bloons Tower Defense has taken a back-seat this month to Plants vs Zombies. This game is free, has 50 levels, and five game modes:
As the promotors say ‘Get ready to soil your plants!’. This is a fun game where the player needs to defend their home from Zombies, using plants that each have their own defensive and offensive capabilites. Although this may not be your cup-of-tea, it is good to know what the students are playing to open-up conversation. For example, I’m sure the students would have something to say if you walked up and asked if they have planted any Scaredy-Shroons to stop the Zombies from eating their brains (just make sure they are the students who play these games first!).
NB: Students at Mooroopna Secondary College (Victoria) are able to use the library before school, at lunchtime, and after school to play games as long as these are not deemed to be violent by the staff.
Coolmath-Games.com is where students can play games and learn math skills at the same time. The site has something for everyone, from learning how addition works (some activities are for children to do with their parents), to being taught about algebra and precalculus. A note of warning for the lessons the site offers, you cannot download or print these lessons. That does not stop you from showing them on the interactive whiteboard. The homepage has new games listed, and you can search by category, such as strategy, numbers, and memory. It is definately worth exploring and sharing with the math teachers.
Games in Education is a brilliant wiki by Adrian Camm (educator, innovator, presenter). As Camm says on the site, “Using gaming as a vehicle for learning is a very powerful idea and one that is under-utilised”. Gaming is possibly under-utilised because many eductors do not know the games that will help students learn and be something that the students are interested in playing. Enter Games in Education. The wiki provides lists of games to suit particular learning areas, such as mathematics, literacy, and global issues. Suggested year levels for each game, how the game relates to the curriculum, and links to further information make this wiki such a great resource. Have a look at the ‘Game Creation Tools’ to get your students creative juices really flowing. Camm also includes current research into gaming and education. You can add to this wiki and if you have any questions Camm provides his contact email on the main page. So, no excuses. Let your students and yourself have some fun, and get gaming.
Knowing what students are playing helps when trying to connect with them. You can suggest good games to play and let staff know of any games that relate to their key learning area.
During February students have been madly playing Bloons Tower Defense. They play it before school, at lunchtime, and any chance they get. This is a strategy game where the player needs to stop the Bloons from going through the maze. Players stop the Bloons from leaving the maze by building and upgrading the Bloons popping towers, through the money the accumulate when they pop a Bloon. Created by NinjaKiwi, there are 50 levels to keep the players happy.
Kelly is a passionate and dedicated elementary (primary) teacher who has developed the most amazing collection of games and written about their educational applications. Check out her blog. You won’t be disappointed.