Blog Archives

6 Game Resources for learning STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math)

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Monique Liles recommends the following Games for learning STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math), in an article for E School news;

1. Glass Labs:

2. Cell Craft:

3. Pandemic II

4. ChemGame Tutor:

5. Ayiti The Cost of a Life:

6. Ellen J. McHenry’s website:

Liles writes “In my classroom, we play a lot of games, frequently as the lesson. We then discuss what the students experienced in the game and make content connections via whole-group discussion. I often create a graphic organizer or worksheet for students to use to organize their thoughts about the game. When I have my biology and life science students play Cell Craft, for example, I demonstrate gameplay and features for the whole class using my laptop and projector. Students complete the organizer while we go through the game as a group and discuss the content. Then, students get a chance to play the game and really immerse themselves.”

Monique Liles is a teacher at Babb Middle School in Forest Park, GA. She is a member of Discovery Education’s Discovery Educator Network (DEN), a global community of educators that are passionate about transforming the learning experience with digital media.

To read the full article at E School click here;

http://www.eschoolnews.com/2015/02/17/gaming-stem-813/?

Teaching Social Thinking Skills with Computer Games

Rubin Osnat, of University of Haifa, Israel writes that;

“Current educational policy in many nations encourage emphases within the school curriculum, particularly important in the second millennium: enhancing thinking as an integral part of the school curriculum, and integrating technology. Future learners should not only acquire a predefined constant knowledge, but higher order thinking abilities, enabling them to intelligently analyze and deal with different situations, solve problems and make decisions. In an age where learning resources are changing, incorporating technology into the curriculum has been found to positively affect the development of higher order thinking skills. Thereof we should examine using technology for teaching (ordering and practicing) thinking to be used in the learners’ everyday lives.
In the current college course program, teachers learned how to use computer games to enhance social thinking skills. Participants were required to develop simple computer games, including analyzing situations (e.g., what skills involve social activities like choosing a friend), and building an algorithm of problem solving to be practiced in a computer game, in which children had to solve social issues. Participants reported fostering thinking skills: thinking about alternatives, considering consequences, comparing and analyzing steps. The program has increased the awareness of teachers to the significant potential of computers for teaching thinking, which can be applied to the learners’ everyday lives.”

James Gee Interviewed on Game-Based Learning

James Paul Gee

of Games and Learning interviewed James Gee on game-based learning.

Banville writes that; “For more than a decade, James Paul Gee has been writing about the potential power of games and game mechanics to change the way we learn, to create new “deep” learners.

But in this newsmaker interview Gee says most of the possibilities of games remain unfulfilled as the American education system continues to focus on tests and fact retention.

He worries that even as learning games become more prevalent, they are in danger of being changed by the schools they seek to sell to rather than changing the school itself.

“The textbook was the worst educational invention ever made because it was a one size fits all type thing and we don’t want to do the same things with games. We don’t want to bring games to school,” he said. “We want to bring a networked system of tools and deep learning and practices that have been tested and are focused on problem solving and not just fact retention — that’s what we want to bring to school. Games can be a very important part of that mix.”

To read more click here; http://www.gamesandlearning.org/2014/02/10/newsmaker-james-gee-on-why-the-power-of-games-to-teach-remains-unrealized/

To Listen to the full interview click here;

Video Games and Spatial Creativity

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Jonathan Wai wrote a very compelling article on “Why We Need To Value Students’ Spatial Creativity”.  He reminds us of the spatially creative inventors and geniuses who have contributed so much to to science and industry.  Then he reveals how schools  neglects the development of spacial creativity.  He makes clear connections between the video games, the development of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) skills and spacial creativity;

“The research is clear that spatial skill is important for STEM careers, and perhaps we can even enhance spatial skill to help more people join the STEM fields. What we need is research directed at understanding the best ways to develop the talent of students who are high spatial, but relatively lower math/verbal. Perhaps spatial video games and online learning coupled with hands on interventions might help these students.”

Wai also writes that;

Spatial thinking “finds meaning in the shape, size, orientation, location, direction or trajectory, of objects,” and their relative positions, and “uses the properties of space as a vehicle for structuring problems, for finding answers, and for expressing solutions.” Spatial skill can be measured through reliable and valid paper-and-pencil tests—primarily ones that assess three dimensional mental visualization and rotation. Read more about examples of items that measure spatial skill here.

But despite the value of these kinds of skills, spatially talented students are, by and large, neglected. Nearly a century ago, a talent search conducted by Lewis Terman used the highly verbal Stanford-Binet in an attempt to discover the brightest kids in California. This test identified a boy named Richard Nixon who would eventually become the U.S. president, but two others would miss the cut likely because the Stanford-Binet did not include a spatial test: William Shockley and Luis Alvarez, who would go on to become famous physicists and win the Nobel Prize.

Today talent searches often use the SAT and ACT which include math, verbal, and writing sections, but do not include a spatial measure. All of the physicists described above (and Tesla who could do integral calculus in his head) would likely qualify today at least on the math section, and Edison would likely have qualified on the verbal section due to his early love of reading.  However, there are many students who have high spatial talent but relatively lower math and verbal talent who are likely missed by modern talent searches and therefore fail to have their talent developed to the extent it could.  Also, because colleges use the SAT and ACT for selecting students, many high spatial students likely do not make it onto college campuses.

Nearly every standardized test given to students today is heavily verbal and mathematical.  Students who have the high spatial and lower math/verbal profile are therefore missed in nearly every school test and their talent likely goes missed, and thus under-developed. What’s more, spatially talented people are often less verbally fluent, and unlikely to be very vocal. Finally, teachers are unlikely to have a high spatial profile themselves (and typically have the inverted profile of high verbal and lower math/spatial), and although they probably do not intend to, they’re more likely to miss seeing talent in students who are not very much like themselves.”

One topic that Wai did not address is the effect of the gender imbalance, in teaching, on the neglect of spacial creativity in US. Schools.  When one gender so dominates the teaching profession, we should expect that certain aspects of creativity will necessarily be neglected.  Gender diversity is better for all professions.  Gender diversity in the teaching profession would go a long way toward fostering the development of spacial creativity in students.

To read the full article by Jonathan Wai on Mind/Shift click here;

http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2013/07/why-we-need-to-value-spatial-creativity/

New research on game-based learning shows that games can impact positively on problem solving skills, motivation and engagement.

In a new study, conducted by The National Foundation for Educational Research in England and Wales (NFER) found that game-based learning shows that “games can impact positively on problem solving skills, motivation and engagement.” The researchers from (NFER) write that;

“The role of video games in teaching and learning is a source of debate among many educators, researchers and in the popular press. Detractors and advocates have been discussing the influences and the potentials of video games for quite some time, and we feel that sound evidence and informed advice on these topics is still very much needed. Against this background, Futurelab at NFER felt that it was timely to provide practitioners, industry and researchers with an up-to-date account of what the evidence tells us about game-based learning and its potential impact on learning and teaching. The review aims to bridge academic and non academic domains, to provide insights that will be of interest to educators, educational researchers, industry and others seeking to engage in a more thoughtful debate about the types of educational values that can be attached to gaming. In particular, we provide accessible advice for practitioners, in the belief that innovation in education is always underpinned by informed and critical teaching.

We carried out a rapid review of key literature to identify relevant theoretical contributions and evidence. This involved systematic searching and a consistent, best evidence, approach to the selection of the literature. We focused on a range of sources, including empirical, practice-based evidence and more speculative literature, published from 2006 onward.

The main findings are as follows:

  • The literature was split on the extent to which video games can impact upon overall academic performance.
  • The studies consistently found that video games can impact positively on problem solving skills, motivation and engagement. However, it was unclear whether this impact could be sustained over time.
  • Despite some promising results, the current literature does not evidence adequately the presumed link between motivation, attitude to learning and learning outcomes. Overall, the strength of the evidence was often affected by the research design or lack of information about the research design.”

Perrotta, C., Featherstone, G., Aston, H. and Houghton, E. (2013). Game-based Learning: Latest Evidence and Future Directions. Slough: NFER.

To a download a free copy of this research click here;

http://www.nfer.ac.uk/publications/GAME01

Good Games Are Hard: in a Fun Way

  • In her article “Teachers, Students, Digital Games: What’s the Right Mix?” Holly Korbey interviewed a few educators who had some bad ideas about computer games;

    “And learning is hard work. The tools children use to manipulate and
    change the world and their own neural pathways should reflect the
    profundity of that phenomenon; we should have some blisters, form
    calluses, break a sweat. Computer games don’t demand that from
    children.”
    No.
    The better games are demanding. That is why they are the best games. There are educational games that are very challenging but they are challenging in the way that good play is challenging. It is counter productive to remind children that they learning not playing. The best learning happens when we are playing.
    Practicing a skill leads to success, but if the practice is boring then students will be less motivated to engage in the requisite practice (James Gee, 2007). The best digital games provide practice that is very compelling, engaging, and challenging, but never boring. Gamers play not because games are easy but because they are hard. But, they are hard in the right way, to the right degree, and most importantly – they are hard in a fun way. The best games provide the balance of challenge and support. To describe learning as “hard work and not play” is one of the worst possible ways to describe it.
    Gee, J.P. (2007). What video games have to teach us about learning and literacy (Rev. ed.). New York: Palgrave McMillian.

    To read the full article by Holly Korbey click here;

    http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2013/03/teachers-students-digital-games-whats-the-right-mix/#disqus_thread