Teach students how to ask their own questions

“The ability to ask the right question is the single most important skill.” -Clay Parker CEO of BOC Edwards Chemical Engineering In a tremendous talk on the purpose of education, Noam Chomsky explains that, “The highest goal in life is to inquire and to create; to search the riches of the past and try to […]

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In Command, out of Control

In Command, out of Control

Meeting expectations is boring. I’ve decided to allow my students to amaze me by relinquishing Control of my classroom and focusing on staying in Command instead. Could this shift in mindset work in your classroom?

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Learning is changing. Are we?

Learning is changing. Are we?

It’s obvious that the way our students learn is changing rapidly and dramatically. As the capabilities of personal technology increase and personal devices spread, cheating is taking on a new look and feel. What are students doing to cheat? Find out what simple shifts teachers can make to engage students turn these “cheating” practices into powerful learning experiences.

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Lessons from video games: Getting students invested in learning

Lessons from video games: Getting students invested in learning

In good video games, as in school, true learning only happens when students are able to situate learning with experience

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Teach like a video game: Use Collaboration as Amplification

The Cheating vs Collaboration debate is not new. The new twist on the argument is that teachers now work in a world where collaborating is easier than ever. Students have access to a network of peers and the entire world’s knowledge in a single pocket-size device, and teachers have been rushing to ban these tools. In a recent survey, 35% of teens admitted to using iPods and cell phones to cheat, and 65% of students say they’ve seen their peers cheating via personal technology. It’s far too easy for students to gain access to solutions to short answer, fill-in-the-blank, and multiple choice questions.

A new disconnect is emerging, because the majority of our students don’t view using technology to look up answers and get help from others as cheating, but universities and schools define these behaviors as Academic Dishonesty unless it is specifically required by an assignment. Collaboration can become an act of insubordination if it isn’t done correctly, and yet the ability to collaborate and network effectively are extremely valuable skills to employers and essential 21st Century Skills.

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Teach like a video game: Put students in the story

Teach like a video game: Put students in the story

Dylan Mansur, a former student of mine who now designs video games, believes that both gamers and students ask themselves the same question early on in their experiences: “What does it mean that I’m here?” The question seems simple enough, but it took me completely by surprise. As a teacher, I’ve spent hours pondering what my […]

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Teach like a video game: Use assessment as learning and motivation

I admit defeat. I can never assess as well as a video game does. When it comes to the quickness and volume of feedback, I cannot compete with a video game. When my students play games, they expect to get immediate, specific, and meaningful feedback that leads to improvement or a detailed analysis of their performance.

In games, assessment is never removed from the learning process. At school, some of my students talked about occasionally getting grades on assignments so far after they turn them in that they no longer quite remember what the assignment actually was.

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Embrace failure as a pathway to understanding

Embrace failure as a pathway to understanding

When I talked to my students about playing video games, many of them had stories of tremendous feats of gaming endurance. Some admitted to sessions lasting over 16 hours at a time. Some talked about working on one gaming objective for weeks at a time. They read guides, collaborated with friends, hypothesized and experimented, learned, and endured.

Many teachers wonder why these students can work so hard for so long at something “meaningless” like a video game and not apply themselves in school the same way. One answer may come from another thing these students had to do in order to master their games.

They failed. They failed a lot. They failed in spectacular ways and they failed by a fraction of a second. They failed over and over again, and yet they progressed and never gave up.

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Can video games teach you how to use texts more effectively in your classroom?

We can improve our instruction and our students’ performance by using our texts the same way a gamer does. According to Dr. Gee, the words in a chemistry text book are still tied to a game: The Game of Chemistry. “The words are tools for problem solving,” he says. “They aren’t just facts to play Trivial Pursuit with.”

Students can use texts the same way they use a game manual, as reference and as a way to get better, and to understand something more fully. However, before they get to that point, they need to have an experience to understand what they need to know.

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What teachers can learn from video games: Gaming is a Literacy

Video Games are something that nearly all of our students have in common. Besides eating and sleeping, what other activities did 65% of your students do yesterday? In fact, gaming is an activity enjoyed by 97% of American teens; an activity that transcends gender and cultural differences. Since this is such a pervasive activity among such a wide range of students, it’s easy to take for granted that gaming is a skill – a literacy even – that relies on some of the most fundamental principles of student engagement. If teachers can recognize this and begin to deconstruct what makes games such effective and addictive learning experiences, they can begin to reach their own students in more meaningful ways.

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