How might video games enhance my students’ learning?
Video games have been a topic that has brought heated debate amongst colleagues both young and old. They bid the question of whether they belong in the educational setting or not. Many believe they are the reason for the decline in student proficiency. Yet, there are others who believe that there are many educational uses for video games in the classroom. Video games as I see them can be a medium, if used correctly, could enhance student learning and understanding.
Since bringing in a gaming platform and allowing kindergarten students to play during the school day might be frowned upon by parents and colleagues, I felt it more appropriate to rely on the computer for the task of testing the educational uses for video gaming. The three games I found for my students to test were found on the same site: www.knowledgeadventure.com. This great site allows teachers to select the grade level, subject, or age. The games found and tried with my class were math line, the new one, and math man.
The first game mentioned above, math line, is an addition game where students try to destroy balls by making combinations of numbers that add up to ten. I was nervous at first to try the game with my students since not all of my students have a firm grasp on adding objects up to ten. As a matter of fact, I was worried it would become a game where they shot the balls without having any understanding of why they “disappeared” when they would hit a certain ball. But to my surprise and delight, the game seemed to strengthen their addition skills rather than weaken them.
The second game tried was called the New One. In this game students have to differentiate between which shape was not in the previous shown screen. As they continue to select the shape that was different from the previous screen they level up and it becomes increasingly difficult. Once again, there were doubts about the level of ability to play this game of memory with my students. And once again, they did great!
The last game I tried was geared for my higher level thinkers in math. This game was called Math Man and is essentially Pac Man with a twist. The Pac Man – like figure has to eat a question ball and then answer it by eating the ghost that correctly answers the question. The questions are both addition as well as subtraction questions and is for higher level thinking in these areas. This game was tried with a few higher leveled thinkers in my classroom who seemed to be moving at a faster pace with addition than their peers. The hardest part to the game was how fast paced it was and the use of the direction arrows to move the Pac Man – like figure to and fro. It was a very challenging game for these students that frustrated them from time to time, but it was what they needed and though they were frustrated they rose to the challenge and wanted to play more after they had finished.
Now, playing the games above and having a blast with them solely for that purpose would have made the games great already as they were. But as I stated before, there needed to be a purpose to the games played. I needed them to be used to enhance student learning and understanding. As we tried them out I had to be sure if they were to be used to meet educational needs that they be tied to our state standards. The following standards were addressed by the games:
Alaska Content Standards
A) A student should be able to operate technology-based tools.
– A student who meets the content standard should:
- Use technological tools for learning, communications, and productivity
C) A student should be able to use technology to explore ideas, solve problems, and derive meaning.
– A student who meets the content standard should:
- Solve problems both individually and with others
- Create new knowledge by evaluating, combining, or extending information using multiple technologies
Alaska Mathematic Standards K-2
Operations and Algebraic Thinking K.O.A
– Understand addition as putting together and adding to, and understand subtraction as taking apart and taking from.
K.OA.1. Represent addition and subtraction with objects, fingers, mental images, drawings, sounds (e.g., claps) acting out situations, verbal explanations, expressions, or equations.
K.OA.2. Add or subtract whole numbers to 10 (e.g., by using objects or drawings to solve word problems).
The next part of the gaming experiment that was of particular importance to keep note of was student engagement. Overall I would say that there was high student engagement in the games that were played. If interest was lost during the process of the games played it was due to confusion over how to play the game. This told me that the games selected were at a level that was above that of the student trying to play. With a limited time block during the day for my students to play these math games (only played during developmental centers at the end of the day), there wasn’t too much fuss about the games themselves. The fuss was more over the time allowed to play the games and turn taking, as I am sure many of you may be familiar with if you’ve ever had any experiences with students in the primary grades and younger.
As far as mastery of the skills went with the games, not all students demonstrated it by the end of the week. But my worries weren’t huge since we have only begun working on addition of objects to ten. It is something that we will continue throughout the following weeks and perhaps month, as necessary. The great thing about the games that were selected is that they can be used to enhance the addition that we are working on to build upon student skills.
Finally, I lacked in the area of reaching out to my PLN. I have felt as if I’ve lacked in this area for the past few weeks with spring break coming and going. I found myself in a daze still when it was over and am currently recovering and planning to reach out more in the following weeks. There is work to be done, discussions to be had, ideas to be shared, and feedback to be given. I look forward to the learning that will take place in the following weeks as we explore more great ideas for the classroom.