Page 24 - THE Journal, May/June 2018
P. 24

| MAY/JUNE 2018
The use of gaming for student-centered learning eliminates constraints, increases engagement, boosts collaboration and empowers students to find answers through deep and rich experiences.
TAMMY SCHRADER was never a gamer. But
one day in a middle school science class she assigned
a game on plant cells to her students to help them review the concepts. One student, a “really bright kid” who would typically “pick and choose” what he would work on, came into class the next day and handed her a thumb drive. On it was a version of a Nintendo Mario game intended to do the same thing. When a learner wanted Mario to jump up to grab a coin, he or she would first have to answer a plant question. If the answer was right, the student would get the coin; if not, he or she “would fall through the tube.” Schrader was impressed enough with the student’s hack that she put it on her interactive whiteboard to share with the class. All day long, she found, “kids wanted to play this game.” Soon, students from other classes were coming in before and after class and during lunch and asking if they could try it out too.
It didn’t take long for Schrader to call her principal in to see the
results. The message: “OK, so I’m not meeting the needs of my kids. Even though I don’t use games, they do, and I think we need to start leveraging it.”
Since then she has become a big fan. By letting students interact with the information through gaming, she has discovered, that’s where the learning happens. “When you present ideas to kids, it’s when they talk through it that they begin to understand it.”
Now Schrader serves as the science and computer science coordinator for NorthEast Washington Education Service District 101 in Washington state, where she helps educators implement Next Generation Science Standards by working with districts to develop and deliver professional development. And she introduces gaming into science classes wherever she sees a fit.
The idea of using games to facilitate student-centered learning doesn’t eliminate “good teaching,” said Meenoo Rami, author, trainer and teacher and, currently, manager for Minecraft:
Using Games to Juice Yo

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