When looking at our goal in education, what is it that we are there to do? Let’s take a look at my school district’s mission statement: “To ensure rigorous, relevant learning experiences that result in high achievement for our students.” To what point is learning rigorous and relevant? By whose standards? The FDOE, State DOE or local school boards? Relevant to what? Standards that are in place to allow success on benchmark testing?
I hear all the time when walking into classrooms and breakrooms on campus that there is not time for the ‘fluffy’ stuff that I’m there to help teachers with. The stuff that the students need are all in the text books anyways. Who has time to create a wiki or blog? Where would I fit into my day the time to tape my students creating video books to share with other classes and grade levels? Heaven help us all if learning turned out to be fun in any way, shape or form!
What type of games are out there that would allow students to learn and *gulp* and have some fun? I’ve compiled a list of a few that might work.
- Webkinz – I’m not going to rehash this as I wrote about this earlier this week. Still find that it would be an invaluable tool in the classroom.
- Roller Coaster Tycoon (or any other Tycoon based game) – I love this series of games. I remember playing one of the first versions of RCT that came out years ago, and how addicting it was to try and get more and more people to show up to my theme park. Creating a roller coaster of your own can be interesting. Can’t get the cars to go back up the rise of tracks? Hrm….sounds like a physics issue there. Better get Newton’s Laws of Physics out for a lesson.
- Sim Tower Sim City or Sim Theme Park – Old school versions of RCT and that genre. I’ve found Sim Tower online through ebay and have contemplated buying it again. Between these 2 games and RCT, what better life and math lesson is there than to have to create your own parks/cities. I remember in Sim Tower creating shopping malls on the top floor of the tower (about floor 100 I think) and it not doing well. Then tasked my daughter with creating a tower similar but choosing to put the shopping area in the basement and she was quickly making money to create more types of shops and condo units.
- Sid Meier’s Gettysburg, Civilizations Series, etc – What a greatly cool thing to do to learn about historical events, then to recreate them via software. Don’t like the way General Robert E. Lee performed at Gettysburg? Just think of the possibilities that can be explored by allowing General John Bell Hood to perform a flanking maneuver on day 2 instead of the assaults on Little Round Top. Might have a different result possibly.
- World of Warcraft or other MMORPGs – I know what might be going through your heads. Tom, you are a WoW-head of course you are going to espouse using such a thing. One thing that I’ve noticed in my lifetime of gaming (going back to Advanced Dungeon and Dragons days using pen/paper) that there is a THRIVING economy in these games. Since leaving San Antonio I’ve been enjoying the family vacation up here in Niagara Falls, NY, yet I’m still able to log into World of Warcraft and complete some minor tasks that does NOT involve any killing. Yet, I’ve still been able to make about 300 in gold by performing these tasks (usually creating food that other players consume and selling off items that other people can use to cook) Sounds like a math lesson in there somewhere to me.
- Fantasy Sports – I LOVE my fantasy football and baseball. Can’t go a football season without having at least 2 football leagues that I’m a part of. Dan Flockhart created a math curriculum to go with fantasy sports and mathematics. I saw this about a year and a half ago on ESPN and is definitely worth taking a look at if you are a math teacher.
Notice a trend there? Alot of math. In my most humble of opinions, alot of emphasis is placed on reading (rightly so) but sometimes I feel it’s to the detriment of mathematics. Right now the GLS conference going on in Madison, WI. (Gaming + Learning + Society) I’m hoping some literature or webcasts come from this conference to sink my teeth into. I know Kevin Jarrett and David Jakes are there. Here’s hoping they have something they can share with everyone.
Seeking the Wisdom of the Ages…