Get in the Game: 10 Ideas for Bringing Gaming into Your High School Classroom

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After three decades of educational games that emphasize simplicity over challenge and content over engagement, the nature of video game use in the classroom is transforming. Specifically, there is an understanding that many entertainment-oriented video games have intrinsic educational value in their demand for critical thinking and emphasis on risk-taking – and that there is value in games with sophisticated game play that asks more of students. The video game industry is also seeing promise in adjusting existing games to add educational value rather than developing educational games that consider entertainment as an afterthought. The end result is a range of games from those that emphasize content with an engaging platform and others that embrace a degree of freedom from curricular coordination and focus more on critical thinking and problem solving.

Finally, mobile technology is putting games at arm’s reach for students in the regular classroom meaning that gaming can be incorporated more regularly and uniformly. Gaming is no panacea, but it can be a valuable complement to instruction. Here are a few options in this area:

  1. Go back to the future by reimagining an old favorite from decades ago. Have your students create choose your own adventure stories. It is possible to do this with Google Drive Forms or try Inkle Writer for a more structured process.
  2. A quick look at a recent newspaper can tell you how popular sports gaming has become. Co-opt this idea without the gambling by creating “March Madness” brackets for historical figures or great authors using an online bracket generator.
  3. Math games are a great way to turn the abstract into something understandable and engaging. There are many collections of great online math games. One I particularly like is Hooda Math.
  4. Turn your classroom into Wheel of Fortune with an online game platform that empowers student devices to support learning. Create interactive timed classroom quizzes that will grab student attention and hold it using with Kahoot!
  5. Inspired by massive open online games like World of Warcraft or smart phone apps that award you with badges? Gamify your entire class to maximize student engagement. Check out this blog post on gamifying learning from Liz Kolb – @lkolb http://www.edutopia.org/blog/epic-fail-win-gamifying-learning-liz-kolb
  6. They don’t have to be just a distraction! Turn your students’ favorite games into an asset for learning.Explore Teacher Gaming for educational versions of games students LOVE including:
    1. MineCraft EDU
    2. KerbalEDU
  1. Every student should be exposed to the world of computer programming in some small ways every year. Thankfully, the Hour of Code has created a network of programming games that are a good fit for kids of all ages.
  2. Do you have students who are ready to kick their gaming up a notch? Radix Endeavour is a massive multiplayer online game that will do just that by integrating STEM concepts for students in middle and high school.
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