I often find myself in between what I perceive to be a generational gap in teaching. I grew up in a school that was both quite high in standards, and practiced (what I believe now to be) modern teaching methods, for the era. At the same time, I was highly vested in video games, gaming culture, and anything fantasy-related. My biggest challenge was bridging the two in my everyday life: being a “proper”, studious young man by day; an avid whip-toting vampire hunter by night. As an adult, however, I find myself reverting back to the formal, rigorous and strict upbringing that was so prevalent in my life. So now I find myself, in many ways, replicating many of the same adult behaviors I experienced while growing up, while giving that fun, adventurous me a back seat.
But research shows so many advantages when games are implemented in class – in the right way. More often that not, I wonder if I fell prey to the chains of repetition, and if I am (in some way) negatively affecting some child’s creativity. Naturally, I would never do that intentionally. On the contrary, I feel that most of the challenges I put before the students are for them to find creative ways to be successful. A student who forgot their homework book, for example, would be allowed to turn it in on a sheet of loose leaf paper as opposed to coming to class empty-handed (without my prompting, of course). While I do limit those and many other simple actions to a 3-strike rule, I always try to applaud and praise students’ creative solutions to overcome the barriers in front of them.
While I find myself imparting classes that are engaging and student-centered, I still feel that they are often lacking something else, something that gives them that “spark”, so to say. And I have felt it before. I have taught classes, and even administered tests that were extremely enjoyable both for me as well as the students. Until recently, however, I couldn’t put my finger on it; that is, until I learned about project and game-based learning as a formal practice.
In planning a lesson for 6th graders, I decided to try using Glogster EDU to get students working together. I have never used a platform like this one, and so I am excited to try it one day, and see how students react to a group project using this software. Of course, I could just assign it to be made on poster board, but the lure of using technology in the classroom fuels engagement, and mixed in with an element of creativity I believe will be the right mix for some classroom magic. Granted Glogster is not a game, I still feel that the interactivity required to use it still feels “fun”.
The program itself feels pretty intuitive, so I don’t really see any pitfalls up ahead in terms of using it. Plus, as I am assigning it to be used in groups, I am hoping that group members will be able to support, each other, ask each other questions and teach each other how to use it if necessary. One thing I do feel could be a drawback, especially with my group of students, is that their learning attitude is often under par, and would need encouragement to do the above.
In the end, I look forward to this and other chances to bridge two things I am extremely passionate about: fun and work. Now that I am more in tune with 21st century practices, I hope to revamp my classes for next year to include more of the things that turned my on when I was young: a good challenge, and being able to use and control a peripheral to do as I wanted.
Image borrowed from: http://hacklearning.org/hacking-project-based-learning-10/
25 Teaching Tools For The Digital Classroom. (2013). TeachThought. Retrieved from http://www.teachthought.com/the-future-of-learning/25-teaching-tools-to-organize-innovate-manage-your-classroom/
Tedx Talks. (2012). Classroom Game Design: Paul Andersen at TEDxBozeman. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4qlYGX0H6Ec