Over the course of my eleven years in education I’m forced to admit that I’ve never truly given credit to the advantage that using games could have in my content area of English Language Arts. For the first eight years of my teaching assignment my role was to teach writing and grammar in isolation from reading as the students had an additional class of reading, with another teacher, in which they would study the elements of various texts. At that time I was aware of programs that were game like in nature and could be used for the practice of grammar and writing mechanics but I did not see value in them beyond a simple drill and kill type environment.
Three years ago we transitioned from the isolated teaching of reading and writing to a blocked 90 minute class that would now be titled, “English Language Arts” and incorporated the two elements into one class. This was a natural fit and has forever changed my teaching while also allowing me to finally recognize the advantage of including game play into my instruction. For example, as presented in “What Game Play Can Do For Instruction” author Justin Eames capitalizes on how game play can lead the way for students to practice reading strategies they’ve been practicing all year. He continues this explanation with examples of students keeping logs of clues which could be seen as reading logs and/or the building of summarizing skills to aide in their prediction (another ELA skill), and ending with students evaluating the resolution of the game (analyzing).
The idea that games supporting the English Language Arts curriculum is expanded upon further in the online article title, “Weaving Literacy and Assessment into Game-Based Learning”. The article explains that after vetting numerous games looking for a standout ELA experience it started to become clear that digital games across all subject areas could be connected to the content and practice of ELA standards. For example, students were asked to create a “cheat sheet” or walk-through of a game for other students. This activity could be used for any game: math, historical, science, yet the task of creating the sequenced and summarized tutorial for other learned can be tied to a variety of ELA standards at multiple academic levels.
Finally, a resource I discovered previously through this class was discussed even more in depth with specified connections to the ELA curriculum in the online article, “ Game-Based Learning + Formative Assessment = A Perfect Pair” by Classroom, Inc. In this write up the simulation game, “After the Storm” is introduced as one in which ELA standards are explicitly integrated into the design of the game. For example, students must determine a way to get information out to a community in mass quantities with no electricity available due to the after effects of a devastating storm. This task not only requires students to identify, analyze, and implement the use of text based evidence but it also challenges their 21st century skills of problem solving and collaboration.
While all of the support presented here has been content specific in nature about the advantages of using game based learning in the classroom an additional and perhaps most beneficial advantage is the engagement and motivation factor it brings to the tables. It is no hidden secret that the more the students are engaged with what or how they are learning the ore driven for success their motivation will be. Utilizing game based learning can not only help strengthen content specific skills but give students a purpose and a goal for chasing success that they may not have been ignited by any other type of instruction or practice. This is just one more tool a teacher can add to their kit in hopes of reaching all students in their classrooms.
Eames, J. (2016, July 10). What Game Based Learning Can Do for Student Achievement (EdSurge News). Retrieved March 08, 2017, from https://www.edsurge.com/news/2014-05-28-what-game-based-learning-can-do-for-student-achievement
Weaving Literacy and Assessment into Game-Based Learning. (2014, December 03). Retrieved March 08, 2017, from https://educators.brainpop.com/2013/04/12/weaving-literacy-and-assessment-into-game-based-learning/
Game-Based Learning Formative Assessment = A Perfect Pair. (n.d.). Retrieved March 08, 2017, from https://www.classroominc.org/case_study/game-based-learning-formative-assessmenta-perfect-pair/