Sometimes I stumble upon an awesome teacher blog that I can’t resist sharing. From the Desk of Mr. Walters is the blog of a teacher/designer/gamer who shares many insights about his work with gaming, gamification, and game-based learning in the classroom. In this particular post, Mr. Walters shares a lesson plan on designing story games in Gamestar Mechanic. My favorite quote from this post is:
“To develop even a simple game, a student must act as sociotechnical engineer, thinking about how people will interact with a system and how said systems shape both competitive and collaborative social interaction. This is the 21st Century Story Tellers Art. This is where Liberal Arts meets STEM.”
Mr. Walters totally gets it! Enjoy his blog.
One of the most rewarding parts of working on games and educational tools is when people make thoughtful observations about their experiences using the tool. Much of what I learn about Gamestar comes from the Gamestar community opening my eyes to various experiences and takeaways – often ones that I didn’t expect!
Here are two recent blog posts about Gamestar Mechanic. The first is from Meagan Bromley, an instructor on Gamestar’s Online Learning Program. In this post, Meagan reflects on her experience as an online instructor and emphasizes how very awesome her students are. She describes the diversity of her students’ goals and backgrounds, from experienced game designers to novice experimenters. One of her students is even writing his own blog on his experience in the program! It’s great to hear about how this platform can support this wide array of interests and aspirations.
This next blog post from Michelle Cook, a teacher librarian, describes a series of “epiphanies” that she had while teaching with Gamestar and the realizations that her students made while learning with Gamestar. My personal favorite teacher epiphany is all about validating your students’ interests. Cook writes:
“It is our role as educators of the 21st Century to meet these students where they are at, employ skills and techniques that they are familiar with to gain their trust and attention that you’re on their side and have their best interests at heart.”
This point is so important when using games in the classroom. Yes, games and game design can do many wonderful things like teach systems thinking and collaboration, but they are even more powerful teaching tools because they come from our kids’ natural passion. Whether or not we use games as educational resources, kids will play them in their spare time. Cook, and many other teachers, have realized that by connecting learning to what kids really like to do outside of school, we are providing students with interest-driven pathways and letting them know that we really do value and care about their passions.