By Brooke Chaplan
The idea that video games are brain-rotters and just for fun after school is outdated. Now, innovative teachers are bringing gaming into their classrooms to create learning experiences that stick. While there should always be a learning goal in mind when students are invited to play video games at school, it is not hard to see just how technology influences kids to reach their full potential. Teachers can use these ideas to implement video games in their classroom lesson plans to help kids pay attention and learn new skills that they will use for a lifetime.
Get Kids Interested in Making Their Own Games
Kids love interacting with technology, but it can be challenging to get them to pay attention in their basic tech courses. Teaching kids to make a video game will encourage them to use their creative thinking abilities while also learning the basics behind computer programming. Many games require a mixture of concept design, creative storytelling, coding, and math. For teachers who are not tech-savvy, special apps can be found that help kids get started with making their own games.
Teach Monetization and Marketing Skills
If there’s one thing kids love more than making games, it’s making money. Once kids are making their own video games, they can turn them into a mini-business. Teachers can tap into the innate skills of their students by teaching them how to market their games and monetize them for a successful first-time business venture. For instance, teaching kids crowdfunding best practices helps them enter into a new opportunity to build upon their skill set. Even if it only provides pocket change, helping students to see how their coding and technology skills have real-life applications and benefits can encourage them to see how school will affect their life goals and career paths. Using what they learn in class to set up a real world business motivates kids to learn even more about technology, as well as math, finances, and legal copyright.
Give Insight into Character Development
Video games are not just for teaching tech skills. Reading and language arts teachers can use games to help kids learn more about how people think and react in different situations. For instance, simulation games that encourage players to create stories for the characters are great for helping kids learn how to develop characterization in a story. Alternatively, teachers can use games to help kids learn how to follow a storyline by analyzing what the characters do. Many games act more like visual novels with branching storylines and character choices, and games like these can help students develop their own storytelling skills.
Develop Critical Thinking Skills
The ability to think through problems to find appropriate solutions is important for kids today and in their futures as leaders in their communities. Video games require critical thinking skills that help kids figure out how they can look at the different angles of a situation to find the best approach. Teachers who choose to use games for this reason should select ones that require kids to make complicated decisions regarding their strategies to win. Many of these games can be competitive, and classes can be divided into teams. Others can involve teamwork and interpersonal strategizing, like Artemis, a game where each player takes on a workstation to run a spaceship simulator.
There’s no question that kids love gaming, and teachers can use this interest to direct their students’ attention to important lessons that benefit them in life. From creating their own games to marketing them to a wider audience, students who are exposed to technology and its many uses at an early age have more opportunities to find and creatively implement success.
Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most of her time hiking, biking, and gardening. For more information, contact Brooke via Facebook at facebook.com/brooke.chaplan or Twitter @BrookeChaplan
I am, once again, partnering with Angela Watson to help promote her 40-Hour Teacher Workweek Club. It’s an online professional development program that has already helped more than 32,000 teachers take control of their time and stay focused on what matters most. The next cohort is starting this summer, and the Club has been updated to cover emerging best practices for the changes ahead. Click here to receive a reminder email to sign up for Early Bird Access on June 8.