Have you ever thought about incorporating video games into literacy and math? YES! You read it correctly: Video games. Literacy. Math.
It all began when I was thinking, “How could I engage my students in learning the process of citing evidence, summarizing, evaluating material, and
using problem-solving skills?” I determined the best way was to incorporate gaming into the classroom. My students love playing video games, so why not come up with a project where they could design their own?
The easiest website I have found for beginners is Sploder
because there is no programming skill required. On this site, anyone can use their creativity and imagination to make games online and share them with the world.
The mission of Sploder states: “We aim to create a place where young people can express their creative ideas and reward each other through positive feedback and encouragement.” (Read more about this in their online message to parents and teachers here
To get started, you need to create a class login and password. By doing this, students are able to save their game to one location. There is no limit to the number of students who can be logged in to your account at the same time. Once logged in, students choose the make the game option, then have the chance to create a retro arcade style game (8-bit graphics and all!), platformer style game (often referred to as a “run and jump”—think Super Mario Bros.—with adventure elements), or a puzzle. I always have the students begin with the platformer creator style because it is more effective when students begin blogging about their games.
On the platfomer creator, the students begin designing their level by adding blocks, tiles, walls, floors, and enemies. Looking for sound? Sploder has music already uploaded to their site to choose from. Once students feel their level is complete, they are able to hit the test button, where they can try their level out. If one level is what you are looking for, press the publish button, give your game a title, and it is ready for the world to play. If you are looking for your students to build upon level one, they will need to click on the arrow next to the level button to add another level.
After completing their game, I have my students log on to their Kidblog
accounts and summarize their game. They have to talk about each level, explaining problem-solving strategies they used while creating their game. After doing this, they have to explain what they feel are the strengths and weaknesses of their game and what they would do differently next time they create their game. Next, they respond to two of their classmate’s summaries.
Afterwards, I pair students to play each other’s game using the random name picker on ClassTools.net
. Students play each other’s game two times. First, they play it for pure enjoyment. The second time they play it, they focus on citing evidence about the game for their evaluation. The students are required to write an evaluation of their classmate’s game on the blog, using at least three examples of evidence from the game to rate it, while also determining whether they would purchase it.
Students use Fodey
, a free web 2.0 newspaper clipper generator to write a newspaper article advertising their game.
Finally, family members play the students’ games for homework. They complete a form explaining whether or not they would purchase the game.
To gain more understanding about game design, and pursuing video game design as a career option, I am going to use Skype in the Classroom
to connect my students with an expert that can answer questions about the complexity of gaming.
Once the students are ready for more gaming intricacy, feel free to use Scratch
, another free site where students are able to create games, stories, and animations.
Still feeling skeptical? Although not all video games provide rich learning experiences, research has shown that gaming teaches students critical thinking skills, problem-solving, collaboration/communication, and social literacy.
So what are you waiting for? Let the students be creative while incorporating critical skills they will need to compete on the global market.
Brandi Leggett is a National Board Certified Teacher in Middle Childhood Generalist. She received her Master’s in Elementary Education from Arcadia University in Glenside, Pennsylvania. She currently teaches third grade at Prairie Ridge Elementary in Shawnee, Kansas.Her classroom website is www.usd232.org/bleggett and classroom blog is http://teambleggett.blogspot.com/.
© 2013 Brandi Leggett. Please do not reproduce in any form, electronic or otherwise.