8th Grade Science teacher, guest blogger and superstar BrainPOP Educator Rachael Tarshes had some creative strategies for introducing game based learning in her classroom this year! Read about her strategies below, or better yet, if you’re attending the ISTE conference in San Diego, check out her students’ presentation at the ISTE playground on the morning of Monday June 25th.
It wasn’t until March of this year that I was made aware of the new roll out at BrainPOP – online games! GameUP currently offers games in Math, Health, Science, and History all for free and linked to BrainPOP videos and lesson plans. At the end of the school year, I was ready to start incorporating games into my science class but I had to figure out a way to make it engaging. I decided to get a little creative. My goal was to give my students the time and opportunity to play and evaluate some of the science games. This would help me decide which games to incorporate into my 8th grade instruction and which ones to highlight to the other grade-level science teachers for their potential use as well.
Taking a hint from Tim and Moby, I started this classroom project with a letter – from Tim and Moby to my students asking them to be game testers. They thought the letter was awesome! I started their game tester work by showing them the BrainPOP video “Video Games” and having each of the students fill out a Bio sheet where they told me their previous experience in gaming and how they felt about using games for education. Then we got to gaming!
For the first few days, I simply let the students pick from an of the over 20 science games to play as I had heard this was the best way to introduce students to the idea of game testing. On the 3rd day, I gave them the Playtester sheet provided by BrainPOP and randomly assigned each student a science game to review for that day. With those few days of “just” playing out of their system, the students really focused on their work. The classroom was silent expect for students asking each other about graphics, how to work out problems, and for hints from someone who’d played the game before.
In the days where the students were able to play whatever they wanted, most of my students were drawn to one game in particular: “Coaster Creator”. I was excited at this outcome because this was the game I want to incorporate next year to help my students learn and reinforce ideas about forces and motion. Unfortunately, due to time constraints, our game testing time got cut short so we were not able to finish our work. I had big plans of the students working on some pros and cons of games in the classroom (BrainPOP “Video Games” Activity that I slightly edited) and work through a myriad of other game evaluation rubrics I had created as well as give them time to create their own rubrics.
While there is SO much more I plan to do with GameUP in my classroom I feel that my students and I got a really great intro to the use of games in the science class. If you would like to hear about the work we did and our ideas about gaming, you can find some of my students and me at the ISTE Playground from 8 to 12 on Monday, June 25th. Hope to see you there!