Review of Gaming 4 Schools
My game is going to be about Layers of the Earth. I chose that because I think I will be cool to use the layers as certain levels! Some of the things you will encounter are boss battles! Also mazes which you will need to answer a question correctly to move on to the right path. That is what my game on GameStar Mechanic is going to be. — Michael
Kevin Hodgson, a sixth-grade teacher in Massachusetts, collaborated with teachers Lisa Rice and Bob Smith on a Geological Game Design project, combining writing and science knowledge with video game design principles.
They have created a website – gaming4schools.yolasite.com – that documents the process from initial expectations of the teachers and perceptions of the students, through the project itself, and to post-project reflections.
The scaffolded nature of the website reflects the attention that the teacher team paid to the structure of the project itself. Students reflected about the principles of video game design (both good and bad), blogged about the big ideas from their science class that would become the content world of their game (layers of the earth, mountains, volcanoes), and focused on the writing process. The multi-modal design of the site – with student and teacher videos, text, and student work examples – also reflects the teachers’ commitment to the importance of teaching and learning with a range of tools.
The website includes a section showing the ways the project met the national Common Core Standards and Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks.
Teachers using or considering Gamestar Mechanic will be interested to see the way that tool is integrated into a complete curriculum unit, from storyboarding to game development to peer review of the games. Kevin, Lisa, and Bob used a checklist for assessment of the games, and the website includes a video of their reflections on that process and thinking about assessment for the project again next year. They also asked the students to give them feedback about the project itself and the merits of a video game design project.
Drawing on and engaging with the previous knowledge and experience of both the teachers and the students, this project is a wonderful example of using video game design to focus on literacy and science content. The website is a straightforward and accessible representation of the thoughtful design of the project.
Cheers to Kevin, Lisa, Bob, and their students!