Gaming and Digital Learning

wordle by rledda82, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License   by  rledda82 

Every Sunday evening I participate in #FSLChat on twitter (#FSLChat is a chat for French Second Language Teachers). Next week, our chat is about gamification in FSL classrooms. I must admit, I don’t know a whole lot about gamification and its role in the classroom. But my major hangup is I’m not in a classroom for very long. So how does gamification relate to my role as a Teacher-Librarian? And can I incorporate it into the 2 classes that I teach?

I stumbled onto this video by Constance Steinkuehler, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In this clip, she discusses how academically struggling teenage boys respond to literature in online gaming situations. One of the terms she used was “Self-Correction Rate”.  This is basically a running record of student reading abilities and how they self correct to make sense of what they are reading.

Steinkuehler talks about how the boys she worked with had major difficulties with reading and yet, when they were allowed to chose what books to read, their self-correction rate doubled! In the example she gives, she speaks about a boy who read at a Grade 6 level, but was able to self-correct a gamer’s guide written for people aged 15 and older.

This video helped me in two ways:

  1. It showed me the correlation that gaming has with literature. As a parent of a struggling reader, I get so frustrated at the amount of time my son chooses on video games instead of books. However, while I watch him play, the amount of reading he is required to do in order to play is evident in the story lines of the games.
  2. It also validated some current books I’ve been purchasing for the library. I’ve added Minecraft books, Pokemon encyclopedias, Gamer’s Guides for 2015 and 2016, and a plethora of other video game related materials in print. I can’t keep them on the shelves. I have students from Grades 3-8 frantically searching the shelves hoping one might still be available.

This type of purchasing hasn’t come without a fair share of side-ways glances and questions about “budget well spent” from teachers and parents alike. I agree, these are not classic novels or information on historical events and people, but these books are meant to reach out to students interests and creativity.

This is where I really felt I connected with the words of Ivan Illich in the Research and Develop article: Redesign Education  and the 3 purposes of education:

  1. Have the resources available for what students want to learn
  2. Empower the students to find and share what they learn
  3. Provide the opportunity for the students to share what they have learned publicly.

Although I can’t see how I could use gaming when I am in classrooms for such a short period of time, I can see how providing students with resources that interest them (especially those in gaming) could help them with reading strategies. Allowing students access to these books also gives them the access they need to possibly advance in what they are interested in learning.


java books in waterstones by osde8info, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License   by  osde8info 

That being said, with coding being the new wave in educational technology and gamification, here is a booklist of coding books that was shared with me on Facebook. I have begun purchasing them for the library and hope that I get the opportunity to run a Coding 101 session in Term 2 of PAA with the Grade 6-8 classes. I will not only introduce them to coding, but even some great literature out there about coding!



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