It is hard to believe that I will be entering my 5th year of using COTS games in my high school history classroom. But as I prepare for the upcoming year it always lends time for me to reflect why I continue to use games and why I look for opportunities for even more.
1. Kids don’t love this stuff…….thay ARE this stuff. It never ceases to amaze me how streamlined technology and young people have become. Using a computer/game as a part of the educational process is such a normal process. I was shopping for my daughter’s birthday yesterday and there were two young ladies working in the store my old man guess is these young ladies were 19-23 years old. Anyway, while they were working, and they were very good moving around the store and talking to people including me, my wife and my mother in law…..then I would watch them retreat to the desk where one computer was being used to check out customers and the other was logged on to one of the gals facebook account. My point here is that these gals were doing their jobs and doing it rather well. They were helpful, pleasant, and an assest to the store. They wrapped gifts while I was there, showed customers how some toys and games worked. And they did all of that while networking with friends on facebook. The two entities have nearly become one.
Another story that explains the same world……I was sitting around a room of 15 football players and two other coaches. We were eating pizza and shooting the breeze. Of the 15 guys I would estimate 10 of them had their phones with them. And during our time together guys were texting and taking part in the real time conversation in the room. Some could say they were being rude but the setting was very informal and relaxed. But how these young men could effortlessly particiapate in two forms of communication was interesting. I text from time to time…but when I do….the world has to come to a stop. I have to concentrate to get it right or close to right. When I hit send then the world is allowed to start spinning again. I am so old (40).
2. Digital as a Second Language. I had this thought the other day. In education we are very concerned, as we should be, with teaching kids that English is their Second Language. ESL kids. But when are we going to become adequately concerened about teaching Digital as a Second Language? I am not talking about programming I am talking about teaching kids in a way that they live. Which is essentially my first point of this post.
3. Creation and Evolution. I used to be a teacher that played games with his studets but I have become a teacher that sees the value in creation of games as well. The cognitive process that all teachers are looking for is a higher level of thinking. To climb Bloom’s Taxonomy. That can be achieved in the creation of games or parts of games by students, and also by letting students evolve through the play of a game. Both scenariors lend themselves to pushing kids to think beyond their normal, everyday level.
4. A dawning of a new generation. This has been happening slowly over time but recently I sat on an interview team to hire a new teacher. The candidates that earned interviews had two subsets. Subset one was 30 plus years old with some life experience. Subset two were the younglings, right out of college and not experienced in life. But another big difference that was evident was the level of technology that the younglings talked about. Things that were talked about were blogging, youtube, and daily or frequent use of technology. They weren’t saying these things because they thought that is what we wanted to hear. They said them because that is what they are. The candidates that were older didn’t talk about technology in the same way.
Well, what does this next year hold for me? I will not be teaching Sociology. So my use of The Sims has come to a stop (for now). I will continue to use Making History. I have also added The InQuizitor to my use. I am also thinking about using a couple of other things but as always I have no money to spend from the school (budget woes continue) but if I find the right thing I will certainly buy it for my classroom. I will be teaching AP World History this year which I am very excited to do. I want to use some of the things I have done with my Gen Ed World History but do them at a deeper level. But as always teaching is a craft, an art, and a difficult thing to do well. Anyone can sit in a room to supervise kids but only those who challenge themselves can challenge others. So let the games begin.