Monday, May 28, 2012

Video Games in My Classroom?

I didn't think I would give in... But I have... Now before you judge me think about this... If you look back through history, many children's toys have been miniature versions of tools children would later use in life. I remember taking my class, when I was teaching 3rd grade, on a field trip to a place called Kelloge House, in California. This Victorian style mansion had been almost fully restored and was meant to give our kids a look into the past... It was there that the docent explained that many of the children's toys used by kids at the turn of the 1900's were items such as little sewing machines, miniature working tools and others such as these tools. This seemed true of today as well... My son already has his own play BBQ that he grills some tasty plastic burgers for mom and dad! I couldn't help but make the connection. Aren't video games employing some of the same skills and problem solving kids may need to use when adults? Fast forward to two months ago... A good friend working for the video game company Valve(maker of a gaming "iTunes" like site called Steam) called and put me in contact with their small but motivated education development team. I was given a beta, or test version, of a one of their top selling games that had been modified to allow students to manipulate and create their own dynamic levels. Using this game, students would need to employ a number of creative and problem solving skills along with math and science. Once done they could play their level on the game called Portal. While I'm still in the "beta teaching version" on using video games in my classroom, this has absolutely opeed my eyes and pushed me off my stance of "video games being the enemy of thinking, reading, and homework." So the question I had to ask myself now and that i pose to you is... What is it that you could turn around to use in your classroom that would push you out of your comfort zone and make kids more excited about learning?