Articles Tagged with: GBL
Teacher’s Game Review of the Excavate! History Series

As word about our Excavate! Series spreads, we have been honored to be in contact with amazing teachers who put it to the test. Below is the story of how we met our friend, Susan Honsinger, a gifted, computer, and math teacher at Saint Mary, a K-8 Catholic school in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. She also talks about how she uses the series with her students. Here’s her review of the social studies series.

Using Games in the Classroom

I first discovered Dig-It! Games in a workshop about game-based learning at FETC in 2015.  I was impressed at the demonstration of the Mayan game activities and thought, “This would rock in a social studies classroom setting!”  However, I was teaching other subjects at the time and didn’t get a chance to try it out.

Last spring, when brainstorming our 3rd – 5th grade gifted course outline for this year, I remembered Dig-It! Our gifted class this year meets once a week for 90 minutes, and the students have been exploring various ancient civilizations.  They’ve done research online and in books, and created posters about the elements that make up every civilization, and how those elements are found in their chosen civilization.

Social Studies teacher review for Excavate!

Social studies teacher review of Excavate!

Dig-It! Games’ Excavate! series – Mesopotamia, Rome, Egypt, Greece, and Maya (at that time, now MesoAmerica) – were a perfect way to get a little deeper into the cultures through exploring the artifacts that are dug up in the course of the game and they actually meshed with the chosen civilizations for our crew.  We spent some time near the beginning of our project playing through the games – with a little guidance, even the 3rd graders were able to easily navigate through the game.  They loved collecting artifacts and finding out more using the journal feature.

Teacher review of Excavate!

Teacher review Excavate

After we played the games, I left them available as a free time choice, and students tried out other civilizations!  I really saw the connections happening when our class started creating displays and “artifacts” from their culture to present later this year.  They were working with much more detailed, authentic visions of the items from their culture and making their own reproductions more detailed.


I really saw the connections happening…

Susan Honsinger, Teacher

I’ve heard students talking about artifacts they found and how those are used as they’re working on their projects.  One interesting note – we had a new student join the group, and the co-teacher suggested she play one of the Dig-It! Games to explore one of the cultures she was observing in the classroom.  She loved it, and a passing student said, “That looks even cooler than the Maya game!” (He had played an older version.) So the new games are noticeably visually richer just to someone walking past!!

Teacher review game Excavate

Teacher game review Excavate

I’m a fan of using games to reinforce learning, even if it’s bingo with order of operations on paper (which I did today with my 6th grade).  However, when something is really rich in information and visually engaging as well, that’s a double-win.  I see that the Excavate! games are embedded in student memory, and the facts and images they found there are being referred to in subsequent classes.  Playing these games solidified their learning in a major way, and I’m so pleased!!  I’d recommend any of them for a social studies unit, particularly from 4th through 8th grades.

Read More Excavate! Game Reviews

If this account hasn’t convinced you to try out our games, maybe last week’s blog post which highlights students’ feedback and reviews will. Please don’t hesitate to reach out (elisab@dig-itgames.com) for more information!

Learn more about our Excavate! series
Check it out

You Might Also Be Interested In:

More on Dig-iT! Games: We continue delivering game based learning products to social studies educators and students that make world cultures come to life in a fun and educational way.  Expand your world history lesson plans with games from the leader in ancient civilization education products.  Your students will thank you for it.


Game Reviews are Pouring In For Excavate

Students deliver their game reviews on Excavate! Greece and confirm that game based learning belongs in the classroom.

One of the great things about working at Dig-iT! Games is that we hear from some of the toughest customers: students! As teachers incorporate our Excavate! games into their classes, we have been hearing some insightful and encouraging feedback from their charges. Recently, we received some game reviews from a group of energetic sixth graders in Maryland, after they played Excavate! Greece. When their teachers asked if they should incorporate the game into their classes in the future, the students were highly enthusiastic.

Games in the Classroom are Fun!

“I think you should use it in the future because it was fun for me, so I think that it would be fun for other students too. Also you get to learn a lot, and you are having fun while you’re learning so overall it makes the class really fun.”

 “Fun” is definitely a core component of the game and also very important to this student!

In addition, many other students echoed that Excavate! Greece was not only fun but also somehow different from other learning games…

…You can interact, it’s not boring as other learning games, and it teaches you by doing something fun.

…it is fun learning and not boring. It is not just one part, so you’re not bored. You can learn a lot in a short period.

…I think students would be more eager to learn if they think that they get to do something fun.

Based on these game reviews, it looks like there may have been an underlying expectation that educational video games were boring to play.  We are glad to see that Excavate! Greece breaks that mold, but let’s dig a little deeper to find out what is making this game so fun for students…

“...it is a fun game, you learn about Greece, and you get to participate in the digging of the artifacts.”

“…it was very entertaining. It didn't bore me, in fact I played it multiple times, it was exciting digging up old artifacts and finally, I wasn't just using one tool you had to use multiple tools.”

“...the activities were fun to play and pretend like we were there...the digging activity was fun and interesting to pretend like we actually were digging up the artifacts...they have you act like your digging up artifacts and writing down facts like some people have as a real job.”

It looks like the digging mechanic in Excavate! is a hit!

Learning through Games

Some learning video games are really fun, but educators must evaluate if they meet standards and facilitate valuable learning experiences.  Our Excavate! games are packed with rich curriculum-aligned content. Student performance outcomes are aligned to the C3 Framework of Social Studies State Standards.  However, the real question to ask is whether students recognize they are learning while playing…

…it teaches us about ancient artifacts, it teaches us about how the cultures lived, and it teaches us what they had in their time.

…you learn about ancient artifacts and how [people] used to live.

…it is a really fun way of learning about ancient objects.

But take heed, students will have to do some work in the game to get the biggest benefit.  Take advice from this experienced player.

“You should continue to use this game in the future because it is educational, but you need to make sure that the kids read everything in the analysis questions and the journal. Another reason you should continue is because it teaches kids how to examine artifacts, and lastly what things went on in Greece.

Teachers are always reminding students to read directions and informational text, but it is heartening to see that this student recognized that it was crucial for success in playing Excavate! Greece.

We hope you will take a moment to play Excavate! Greece now and in the future after reading these Excavate! reviews.  But don’t take our word! We think the following student summed it up succinctly when asked whether the game should be incorporated into the class again:

“Yes because the future classes will love it. It’s fun to play. It’s cool!

Try Excavate! Greece for Yourself!

Get the Game

Experience Mesopotamia, Don’t Just Teach It!

Students often ask when they will use what they are learning in school or how a topic actually relates to their own lives.  This can be particularly challenging while teaching about the daily life of Mesopotamia over 5,000 years ago.

An image of a chariot, technology invented in Mesopotamia

We usually start with the contributions of the Sumerians, Assyrians and Babylonians.  They were amazing civilizations since they developed agriculture, invented the wheel, created city-states, organized militaries and laid down the law in the form of Hammurabi’s code.  We can even refer to top 10 lists of inventions that show that these civilizations were great and that they built the foundations of our modern life.  While it is obvious that we owe a debt of gratitude to their inventiveness, we still need to approach teaching these civilizations in a way that engages the modern student.

One approach is to focus on lesser-known aspects of these civilizations like the History Channel’s list of “9 Things You May Not Know About the Ancient Sumerians.”  You can impress students by highlighting that women were rulers, their cities were the size of modern cities and that they loved beer. However, in the end it may still feel like another list of irrelevant facts.

Another approach is to change how the information is taught.  Crash Course has created a great library of quick and informative YouTube videos. These can be used as a great preview at the start of a unit.  Their Mesopotamia video astutely proclaims that “an eye for an eye leaves the whole world monocular.”  You may grab student’s attention with pithy animation videos, but you may want to utilize interactive digital experiences too.

A stone image of Hammurabi, a king in MesopotamiaAlthough the selection of online interactives about Mesopotamia is not very robust, there is a variety in the types of experiences to be had.   There are basic interactives that essentially bring to life maps from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s textbooks.   There are also interactives that put students in the decision maker’s position like Philip Martin’s interactive Hammurabi’s code. In this interactive, students have to choose the appropriate punishment based on the codes.    The British Museum has an extensive interactive Mesopotamia site in which students can explore the geography, religion and technology of Babylonia, Assyria and Sumer.  Finally, students can also try their hand at playing the ancient game of Ur.

As you can see, there are many resources to engage your students online. However, all of these are missing a core component which is key to engaging students deeply.  Our understanding of history is always evolving based on new archaeological findings and the development of new scientific tools.  Why not engage your students in the process of discovering and debating what actually happened?

An image from Dig-iT Games' Excavate! Mesopotamia

History is discovery.  Here at Dig-iT! Games, we are committed to the discovery of history through archaeology.  We have just released Excavate! Mesopotamiaan interactive video game which provides a different way to look at Mesopotamian civilizations. The game challenges students to excavate artifacts, analyze them and then synthesize what they have learned. Students must closely examine artifacts and discover the purpose and significance of each one. This leads to a deeper understanding of the daily life in ancient Babylonia, Assyria and Sumer.

History is contested.  For example, new technologies have afforded insight into the possible role that shepherds played in trade in Mesopotamia. Previously, historians believed that nomadic shepherds were instrumental in facilitating international trade. They would travel widely in search of greener pastures for their sheep and goats.  But, new technologies have afforded new findings that are sparking controversy.  It’s possible shepherds actually stayed closer to cities to supply milk and fur and were out of the trade networks.  This article from Science Magazine highlights the debate. This is a great way to share with students the process of discovering history and the necessity of being critical of sources and processes used to reach conclusions.  Encourage critical thinking skills over the belief that history is a closed case!

We hope you find these resources helpful in engaging your students in the study, exploration and intellectual discussion concerning Mesopotamia.


2017 | A Year of Digital Learning

The 2017 Year in Review – Education Highlights

At this time of year, we reflect on the major events that have influenced our New Earth Planetlives and industry. Our news outlets will share their highlights of 2017 from weather to politics but there were also lesser known discoveries and events that should be remembered. NASA reported that there was a new planet that could support life and then there was the exciting finding of a new chamber inside the pyramids of Giza for example. There were also significant developments in the intersecting worlds of technology and education.

E-Learning Recap 2017

  • The hottest development was the expansion of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) apps for the education marketplace. Students were transported to other worlds or dropped into the human body to explore its complex systems. There was also an increase in capacity for students to create in the AR and VR spaces with sites like Co.Spaces. Check out these 20 VR apps that had a big impact in 2017.

Virtual Reality in Education Games

  • Chromebook is now King and Queen! Cheap hardware with a suite of online, collaborative digital tools attracted schools to adopt Google as the #1 supplier of educational technology in 2017. This was not without critics who point to the fact that students are being shepherded into becoming lifelong Google customers as they transfer their school accounts to private ones upon graduation. Read More: “How Google Took Over the Classroom.”

Educational Games and chromebooks

  • Siri, Alexa and “Ok Google” have become common ways of interacting with technology and much of the Artificial Intelligence (AI) that makes these on-command applications work also has the potential to improve teaching and learning. Follow this link to read about 5 examples of how AI is being used in grading and tutoring applications to free up valuable time for teachers and improve the speed of services for students. We are incorporating AI into our new educational applications platform.

blockchain education technology

  • Blockchain (n0t to be confused with Bitcoins) made waves in 2017 with its use in the financial sector but it has great potential with credentialing and securing student records in academia. If you are not familiar with blockchain software, check out this great blog and video that IBM has created to explain it. While blockchain has not made its way into the K-12 classroom (yet), universities and online learning platforms are piloting its use and it has the potential to help bring digital badging and online diplomas to a universally recognized position in academia. Familiarize yourself with it now because it may have an impact on education very soon!

 

  • Dig-It Games made waves by building a revolutionary platform for data reporting from digital learning games. The platform is called Game-Based Learning Experience API or GBLxAPI for short. This National Science Foundation (NSF) funded project aims to build a reporting language for all video games to use to report student data as well as create a protocol for collecting and reading the data. It aims to streamline all data from various online-learning games and platforms so that schools and teachers can analyze data in a single dashboard owned by the school district (not the edtech companies). We made great progress this year and partnered with other game companies to implement it in 2018. Stay tuned!

Game-Based Learning

In 2017, many students had a lot of energy around getting a Nintendo switch and their parents expended a lot of energy expressing disappointment that Nintendo stopped selling the classic NES system. There was also major gaming news in the classroom. Kahoot released a great year-end review of the trends that they witnessed with their customers such as a surge of search requests for Math content, an increase in adoption of Google Chromebooks and a rise in the use of BYOD (bring your own devices) in many classes. Increases in BYOD is exciting news because it opens new venues of interactivity such as incorporating social media and virtual reality into the classroom. But an important aspect of bringing more hardware into the classroom is finding high quality games to play!

World History Game Excavate EgyptWe are proud to announce that Dig-iT! Games released 5 games in 2017 which will prove to be a valuable experience and resource for all World History classes. The Excavate! video game series extends our innovation approach to incorporating the STEM field of Archaeology into Social Studies and History courses by challenging students to dig up ancient artifacts and then analyze them for key concepts about ancient civilizations. We released Excavate! Mesopotamia, Excavate! Egypt, Excavate! Greece, Excavate! Rome, and Excavate! Mesoamerica. Each game is accompanied by high quality supporting curricular materials help facilitate each game’s use in the classroom. We also released ExoTrex 2 challenging students to search for a new planet like the one NASA found this year.

Exotrex 2 Science Education Game

Game-based learning and Gamification are both listed as trends in education for 2017 and beyond.  We are proud to be a part of this exciting development by offering a high quality and engaging game series. Contact us today to review any of our newest games!

Have a great 2018!


“The Vikings Aren’t Coming:” A Recap from a Summer School Game Design Workshop

By Kenny Reddington , Guest Blogger and Teacher at Robert Frost Middle School 

Last summer, a mutual friend, Dr. Alana Murray, offered to introduce me to some guy named Chris Magnuson who worked with an educational video game company called “Dig-It! Games.”  I cannot lie; with a name like “Magnuson,” I pictured him being a Viking—and who could pass up the chance to meet a real-life Viking who designs educational video games?

 

Chris offered to come to Robert Frost Middle School’s extended year program (EYP) and let our students test pilot a few new games that Dig-It! Games was working on at the time, and this seemed like a great way to get my kids to stop playing Pokemon Go (remember that?) for a few minutes and possibly even learn something in the process.  We agreed to two meetings where the students would beta test the games and provide feedback on their experience.  Dig-It! Games would then consider the feedback they received and refine their games based on the students’ input.

 

I got to meet Chris (who is, of course, not a Viking) and his colleagues, and I got to see firsthand how much my students enjoyed piloting the games, providing feedback, and retesting the games after Dig-It! Games made updates from their input.  We had the beginnings of something here.

 

Flash forward.  This year, my school decided to re-structure our summer literacy class and partner with Dig-It! Games to provide a curriculum that was fun, interactive, and educational.  In addition to purchasing and playing their learning games, we wanted the three-week class to center around peer-to-peer discourse and critical thinking skills.  Our goal was for students to generate game ideas (original or existing), design paper prototypes, and create narratives to serve as their games’ storylines.  Once done, the students would present their finished products to an audience.

 

In addition to working with Chris, Dig-It! Games’ Jessica Mlyniec and Elisa Bartolomeo-Damon designed and implemented instructional sessions for our students, one to be delivered each week of the course.  The first session revolved around piloting and evaluating video games, the second focused on creating narrative driven, goals-based video games, and the third session focused on student presentations and eventually became “Frost Game Con 2017”-an event for summer students to showcase their work to our administration, students, and Dig-It! Games.

 

The kids really enjoyed the program, and the framework allowed them opportunities to be creative, solve complex problems, and design a product that they were proud to display.  The students’ games at Frost Game Con 2017 varied from adventure games to maze-themed games to strategy-based games focused on world domination.  Not only was it a great experience to see the kids’ faces as they showcased their games and served as experts, it was a blast seeing the faces of our convention goers as they learned the rules and played the games.  Everyone had a terrific time and the kids learned a lot in the process.  We even had one group of students who went beyond paper prototypes and created their game so it was computer ready.

 

Working with Chris, Jes, and Elisa has been a great experience for the RFMS extended year program.  We created a high interest, interactive program that allows us to move towards our school improvement plan goals.  And the best part?  The kids had fun.  And the other best part?  We still have room to enhance the program even more!  (Based on our students’ feedback, of course.)  I am already looking forward to collaborating with Dig-It! Games again in the future to refine the summer EYP literacy program.

 

Now, if only I could get Chris to create a Viking game.

 


Games to Prepare for Testing

April is a busy time of the year, and it also signifies that the school year will soon end. The end of the school year means one thing in the education field, review of all content material cover in the curriculum to help students prepare for their end-of-year projects and assessments. What is the best way to prepare students? Some teachers use review packets and drill practice worksheets. However, the best way to review the content and prepare for testing is to have students play games! 

At Dig-It! Games, we have numerous games that help students review standards in the intermediate and middle school grade levels.

 

Loot Pursuit: Early America is a great game for 4th, 5th, and 6th-grade students to practice math computation and U.S. History standards on Jamestown. 

 

 

Exotrex Episode 1 allows students to review concepts taught in Physical Science and Earth Science standards. 

 

 

Excavate! is a series of ancient civilization games on the social, cultural and economic standards of the cultures of Maya, Egypt, and Mesopotamia through ancient artifacts.

 

Games allow students multiple attempts where a state assessment/end-of-year test only gives the student one chance with the material. Games enable students to play with concepts and materials taught during the year in a quick, safe and easy way to help students practice and cement the information they are reviewing. For all students no matter the grade, there is a lot of curriculum covered in a school year, and a subject specific game can allow students to fail at concepts while practicing over and over again until the student and the teacher feel that they have mastered the concepts needed to pass the yearly assessments.

As the end of the school year nears to a close and those state tests draw closer, make sure your students are ready! Check out our games as well as others to help your students prepare for their final assessments!

 


The Women of Dig-It! Games Part 2

This is our second week of celebrating the women who work here at Dig-It! Games. We are enjoying this time to reflect and talk about the accomplishments of our coworkers. This week we have Melanie and Jes!

 

Melanie Stegman

The first thing you should know is I started learning to code in C# when I was 44 years old.  I learned some BASIC coding in high school, but our class spent weeks making a program that printed out a receipt like a cash register. I thought the whole process was stupid and boring. I knew that the Atari games I loved were created by programming, but programming is just memorization of a language written down by someone else. My 17-year-old self wanted to solve important, complicated problems. Real, important problems that required creative thinking were problems like: What causes cancer? What makes us feel stressed out? How does stress affect our immune system? Could we optimize our immune system to fight cancer better?  So I threw myself into biochemistry. I loved it. I worked every single day for 3 years, and then for the next 7 years I decided to always take at least ½ a day off every weekend.

Whenever I interacted with non-scientists, people always said the same two things to me: 1) You don’t look like a scientist and 2) I have no idea what you are talking about. The second statement bothered me more, because what I was talking about were things that effect everyone every single day: cells, receptors, molecules in our bodies. If no one understands what I am talking about, then no one knows what cold medicine, anti-depressants, or sugar does in their bodies. If no one understands what a typical biomedical scientist is doing in the lab, then no one understands that we really need more funding for biomedical research!  So, I decided the big complicated problem I would focus on would be teaching the average person how cells, receptors and molecules work. If everyone had this basic vocabulary then we could talk about health, the environment and funding for research much more clearly.

At the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) as the Director of the Learning Technologies Program, I conducted research on learning and confidence gains in players of the game Immune Attack. I published my research, designed and developed a follow up game called Immune Defense. Then the FAS decided not to work on learning games any longer. I chose to become an indie (independent) game developer because I wanted to focus on making games about cells and getting them onto people’s computers/devices.

So!  Age 44.  Starting a career as indie game developer, I learned repeatedly that game development is difficult and time consuming. I also learned (again) how difficult and time consuming writing grants can be. I started working at Dig-It Games in November 2016. Here at DIG we share similar goals: Make games that teach important concepts that people really enjoy playing. I enjoy it here very much. I am developing an RPG about dinosaurs and helping design playtesting sessions and analyze data about learning in our educational games.  My brain is challenged, my colleagues are a ton of fun, and I am learning new things every minute.

 

Everything I’ve done up to this point in my life allows me to be a valuable contributor to many different conversations in the studio. In my own time, I still work on my own molecular biology games; my work and personal goals synergize with each other. I continue to be a very happy “woman in tech.” And yeah, everyone still says I don’t look like a game developer, just like they used to say I didn’t look like a biochemist. Scientists and engineers on TV and movies still are usually men… the people doing the cool, meaningful things in stories are usually men. (Except for that fantastic Hidden Figures book/move!) The reason appearances matter is simple: tech and science (really anything you dedicate yourself to) will present a challenge sooner or later. Let me just tell you, it is a lot easier to ignore those voices of doubt when you have colleagues around you who treat you with respect. Find a place where people respect you, and don’t try to tough it out in an unfriendly environment. There are many places looking for people who enjoy solving problems, who help their colleagues face new problems. Wherever you are now you are gaining experiences that you can use in the future for solving new problems. Keep learning and keep looking for new jobs.

Just a thought, maybe we female tech people should wear shirts saying “This is what a game developer, graphic artist, QA expert, educational technical researcher, CEO looks like!”

 

Jes Mlyneic

After five years teaching, I sought out a new adventure and added working at Dig-It! Games to my resume, which allowed me to create educational games and help other teachers learn how to incorporate and use games in their classroom. By working at Dig-It! Games, I have had the honor of working with teachers on how to use games in their classroom and have presented at ETIS in Baltimore, Montpelier, and the National Conference for Social Studies. Most recently, I have been accepted to present at ISTE in June on Game-Based Learning. By play-testing Excavate, Loot Pursuit: Early America and ExoTrex: Episode 1 both in-house and at school sites in Maryland and Virginia, I have been able to build relationships with both elementary and middle schools teachers. In my game portfolio, I have worked on Loot Pursuit: Early America and ExoTrex: Episode 1 and 2. Today, I work as a second-grade teacher when I am not working on projects and curricular materials for Dig-It! Games. The world of education is always changing, and most recently, I have been accepted to begin my graduate certificate in Education Leadership from George Washington University!

 

 

 


Breakout of Your Old Lesson Plan!

What if there was a lesson plan that uses your curriculum to teach teamwork, troubleshooting, critical thinking and problem solving? Would you use it?  One of the newest activities for students to experience in the classroom is “Breakout: Edu”.

 

Have you experienced an “Escape Room” yet? If you haven’t heard about them, a team of people get locked into a room and must solve clues to find the way out of the room. The rooms are themed: Pirates, Indiana Jones, the 80’s, the 90’s, Harry Potter, and so on which only make the games more popular.

 

Educators have taken this idea and put it into practical use in the classroom. This changes the game from breaking out of a room to finding combinations to open a series of locks on a box to find a reward. This game lends itself to a wide array of skills for students such as critical thinking, collaboration, and creativity. BreakoutEdu is a company that sells inexpensive kits that include the box, locks, UV flashlight, and more but it is also relatively easy to buy your own materials.

 

The popularity of this game proves that this game can be a standard in a class where students are having fun and collaborating while applying their knowledge! They aren’t just answering trivia questions, they are actively using the information they learned in a class to achieve a purpose. The questions can be adapted to ANY subject or content area and mini activities can add depth and fun. It is also very easy to adapt this game digitally and let students play individually or in small groups.

 

This form of problem-solving has many teachers and administrators excited! There is huge potential in using breakout activities as performance-based learning. By pairing cross-curricular content with puzzles, riddles, questions and clues, teachers are able to build hands-on experiences where students can apply their schema, reasoning, critical thinking, communication and collaboration skills to show their mastery of the curriculum. This fantastic opportunity for engaging learning has even been adapted as young as kindergarten!

 

Here at Dig-It! Games, we love to see the intersection of learning and fun and applaud anything that can do this. Have you tried a Breakout in your classroom? What did you think?

10 Reasons to Play BreakOut Edu

Top 10 Reasons for Breakouts by Sylvia Duckworth and Maria Galanis

 

 

 


Snow Days, Game Days

Snow is in the forecast, and you don’t want your students to lose pace with the curriculum. What to do? Educational digital games are the solution. An easy way to make sure that your students review and practice material, so they do not become rusty with concepts covered in class. This can also be a great solution to help front load students for new concepts that will be taught once the abominable snow recedes.

By taking the time to set up a digital classroom, you can ensure that your students (and their parents) will be able to access any materials, resources or information you wish them to have available to them on their “snowcation.” Google Classroom has been a great tool to fulfill this need for teachers. Here a teacher can create assignments, announcements, insert links to games and monitor their student’s activity. If you don’t have access to Google Classroom, it could be a separate section on your school web page.

By creating the digital classroom, a teacher has taken steps to ensure that some form of learning is taking place at home by creating a digital platform for communication. Here as a teacher, I can give students dialog and directions to play certain educational games that will supplement our previous instruction, cover instruction missed, and utilize games as digital instruction to prepare students for material they are going to see in the near future. Teacher’s directions can be as simple as; play this game, play this game to a specified level, or play this game and achieve a certain score. Most educational games are also including a reporting system, so depending on the game assigned, it is up to the teacher how they will collect the student’s progress by either looking at the game’s report or having students record their progress in the Google Classroom assignment feature.

The old snow days of sitting around and just watching television are over. With the easy accessibility of the internet, teachers can now reach out to students to make sure students do not lose out on precious instructional time! It’s also not a bad deal for the students who get assigned to play games, and the byproduct just happens to be learning!


Memorize the Solar System!

What is the best way to teach students about the solar system? As an instructor, what instructional methods might you choose to present the content? The traditional method chosen is to have students read about the solar system from their science textbook or do you choose to utilize Game-Based Learning? The first method can be dry, impersonal, and depending on the year it was published, inaccurate. Some instructors will infuse text readings with primary sources, such as articles, videos, and photos from or about space to help students visualize and understand the content better. These additions will supplement and heighten instruction to encompass visual, spatial, linguistic and auditory modes of learning.

After teaching about the solar system, many students are required to show proficiency on an assessment or project. To prepare for this, one method chosen by students is to make flashcards. This form of learning or memorization only works for some students; one such proficient example of this form of learning is the brilliant four-year-old Brielle. Watch her here on the Ellen Show!

But as all seasoned teachers know, flashcards are not a tool that works for all students. What all students need are hands-on experiences that allow students to explore and apply the new information found in their schema. Now, this can be hard to do while learning about the solar system, being that the closest planet, Venus, can vary from 38 million to 261 million kilometers away. This presents a problem if we want students to apply new understanding of concepts learned to real life examples.

One solution is virtual reality. Pairing traditional methods of instruction with game-based learning can lead to amazing results. Games are digital learning tools that allow a student to apply their knowledge while playing and analyze the outcomes to determine if concepts need to be revisited and reviewed in a non-threatening environment. Losing a game does not hold the same negative stigma that a bad grade on an exam holds. A student can play and replay a game until mastery of the concept or level is achieved!

Within this format, a teacher will be able to gather and determine their student’s performance and therefore determine areas that need to be reviewed and which areas show mastery. This method of instruction is called Game-Based Learning and it is proving to be a great way to blend curriculum standards with interactive learning fun.

To learn more about Game-Based Learning check out the infographic below from www.online-education-degrees.net.

To explore the solar system, check out our new educational digital game; ExoTrex Episode 1 and begin the journey incorporating Game-Based Learning into your classroom!


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