Monday, October 24, 2016

Getting Hooked on Games = Getting Hooked on Learning?!

This week we our assignment was to play Kingdom Rush for 3 hours! YES!

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Best GRAD SCHOOL HOMEWORK EVER! The only issue I had is that I do not have time to prepare for conferences, complete this blog post, AND get hooked on a game! Unfortunately, that's exactly what happened!

When I first began playing this game, it didn't really get me excited. It is like the first few weeks of school, mostly exposition and learning the ins and outs of a game or routine. The game reminds me of Plants Vs. Zombies because each level has many waves of enemies over an extended amount of time. As the levels get tougher, you spend more time defeating the waves of enemies. I began to enjoy the game as I leveled up and was able to build more spectacular towers! Once I discovered all of the different things the higher level towers could do, it became really entertaining to watch the waves of enemies get decimated by zapping, exploding, or ax throwing! I already know I tend to get lost in games once I start. I spent many hours in my youth building amazing theme parks on the PC game, Roller Coaster Tycoon.

While playing Kingdom Rush, I did get frustrated at first, especially when the snowy guy kept freezing my towers. I usually took a break for a while after losing. The play of each level takes so long that it was easier to come back to it later and try again. I did reach a certain Flow level while playing the game, otherwise I wouldn't still be playing!

And now, for the main event, how can educators connect gaming to learning?

I think the first month of school is like the first few levels of a game. Both the teacher and the students are figuring out the routines. The teacher is figuring out their students so they can plan for their classroom and the students are figuring out how this particular classroom works. Teachers can make this a smooth process through building a classroom community and helping students to feel like they are "leveling up" each day. Teachers don't need a total gamification system in order to make this happen. If you can consistently show students evidence of their own progress in the midst of a few trial and errors, you can get them closer to that feeling of purpose and flow in their work.

We have big celebrations in my class when a student gets over a hump they have been struggling with, behaviorally or academically. In my classroom, using GoNoodle with a simple point system and visual leveling up gets my students really excited. It would be interesting to try and expand something like that to academics. We focus on letter identification, if students could visually "level up" every time they remember a new letter, they may be more motivated to commit the letters to memory.  

In the future, I would like to try creating my own Gamification for students in relation to preschool academic skills. The students would get a huge kick out of seeing their progress in a fun way, and be motivated to keep improving, even if it gets hard sometimes.

I'm so sad to see this assignment conclude. It's not every day you can say you are playing a game because you have to!

Thanks for reading! Peters out!

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