Recently, I have been thinking a lot about the use of video games in the classroom. Because the kids love the opportunity to actually use class time to play games, engagement on their behalf is easily attainable. I see this as potentially one of the greatest arguments for gaming in the classroom.
1. Playing and learning together is very important. None of us are as smart as all of us, and this is why it is so important to learn how to play together. When we played Rock Band today, many students were shy and nervous about playing in front of their peers. When you play Rock Band, you get a chance to see how failing in front of your peers does not have to be scary. The classroom should be a safe place where collaboration is normal. I saw many of you go out of your way to comfort and support those who were hesitant.
2. The lyrics from the songs are inspirational. They make you think of things that have happened in your life. For example, the song Should I Stay or Should I Go has a lot to do with my life. At the end of last school year, I was asked if I would accept a transfer to a new school. For the first time in my teaching career, I needed to choose to stay or go. This was not an easy decision for me because Westpark had become like a second home for me.
Eye of the Tiger was a very interesting song because it connects to the video that Mr. Cunningham shared with us. I googled the lyrics and found them here. I found the lyric “Just a man and his will to survive” as very powerful. In this world, challenges, problems and hardship are the norm. Anyone who plays the game of life without failure or mistakes isn’t really playing the game. Perseverance maybe one of the most important characteristics anyone can have.
I can think of a few more but I think I’ll place them in another blog post.
I shared this post with them because I wanted to model for them how you could write about this for more than one sentence (Brevity has not been a problem with my students’ writing). I also wanted to model how to give a link to another website (my kids are not that tech savvy), and I wanted to connect the game to other media that we’ve already used in class. (see the video below)
As a class, we discussed why some students would be hesitant to play. Many could see fear of failure and embarrassment as very real concerns. In fact, a couple students were so nervous, they couldn’t even be in the room when we started playing. With some artful guidance from my colleague Richard, we convinced them to give watching a try.
We also discussed the importance of perseverance in the face of failure. Eye of the Tiger as their first song worked out nicely because it led into a follow up conversation about this video that had been uploaded to our Ning:
Later on in the day, we were playing some games that focused on teaching my students how to type (they mostly hunt and peck). That’s when Jake suggested that keeping your fingers on the home row required similar dexterity to when you play guitar on Rock Band. I thought that was very cool.
Had a stranger walked by and poked their head into my classroom, they would have seen what looked like chaos – kids were talking, music was blaring and drums were banging. But if that stranger cared to scratch the surface by asking the kids some questions, listening to our class discussions or reading their blog posts, I think they would have discovered real learning (purposeful chaos) was taking place in a context and for a purpose.