A Journey Through Technology

Week 6: How are games providing new opportunities for differentiation in the classroom?

on February 26, 2016


Here’s my video link for this week: http://screencast-o-matic.com/watch/cDnthC1jkX

“Half of all American households have dedicated game consoles; many have two.” (Schaffhauser, 2013) My house falls into this statistic because we have two game consoles that see quite a bit of use. Many of my students play video games as well, and I really enjoy talking with my students about the games they are playing and how my games are going as well. The more I read this week, the more I could see that using games in the classroom, specifically video games, could really help students stay engaged, which in turn can help them learn. “Proponents say gaming provides a compelling way to engage students and make educational efforts more effective.” (Schaffhasuer, 2013)

Steven Isaacs wrote about his experience in the gamification of his classroom, and he was able to “provide a variety of learning paths for students to choose.” (Isaacs, 2015) Differentiation allows for student choice, so it seems that gamification could fit very well in a differentiated classroom. Mackay (2013) shared research that shows a significant improvement in the reading level of boys when they read in an online game as opposed to a regular classroom, which is mainly due to the fact that in the games “the boys could choose what they read.” (Mackay, 2013)

Differentiation is also about getting students engaged. Another way that teachers have been able to get students more engaged in learning is through coding. Greg Hamley, a technology teacher at Monforton School, started teaching his third and fourth grade students how to code and has had amazing results. (Stiff, 2015) “We started last year and the kids just ate it up. They love it.” (Hamely, as quoted by Stiff, 2015)

Joel Levin, a former teacher and co-founder of TeacherGaming, uses Minecraft to help “students and teachers of all disciplines use their creativity to design projects, free from the kinds of limitation they would face using traditional methods.” (Ossola, 2015) A crucial part of differentiation is moving away from traditional classrooms. “The traditional classroom…in many ways stifles some of the attributes most crucial for human learning…” (Mackay, 2013) The article about using Minecraft in the classroom shows that gaming could be a good way to shift from traditional classrooms. “Studies published over the past two decades support the idea that video games can increase students’ spatial knowledge, improving their aptitude for math and science.” (Ossola, 2015)


Granata, K. (n.d.). Teachers Take Advantage of Minecraft in the Classroom. Retrieved February 23, 2016, from http://www.educationworld.com/a_news/teachers-take-advantage-minecraft-classroom-60294258

Isaacs, S. (2015, January 15). The Difference between Gamification and Game-Based Learning … Retrieved February 23, 2016, from http://inservice.ascd.org/the-difference-between-gamification-and-game-based-learning/

Mackay, R. (2013, March 1). Playing to learn: Panelists at Stanford discussion say using games as an educational tool provides opportunities for deeper learning. Retrieved February 23, 2016, from http://news.stanford.edu/news/2013/march/games-education-tool-030113.html

Ossola, A. (2015, February 6). Teaching in the Age of Minecraft. Retrieved February 23, 2016, from http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/02/teaching-in-the-age-of-minecraft/385231/

Schaffhauser, D. (2013, September 9). Will Gaming Save Education, or Just Waste Time? Retrieved February 23, 2016, from https://thejournal.com/Articles/2013/09/02/Will-Gaming-Save-Education-or-Just-Waste-Time.aspx?Page=1

Stiff, H. (2015, February 6). Monforton teacher instructs coding to kids. The Belgrade News. Retrieved February 23, 2016, from http://www.belgrade-news.com/news/article_6716d926-ae2a-11e4-959b-13ebce844c1c.html


6 responses to “Week 6: How are games providing new opportunities for differentiation in the classroom?

  1. lucassara12 says:

    That is so interesting that boys had a higher reading level when playing games. I think I remember stumbling across something like this about a year ago, but had forgotten about it. I think it is crazy that choice makes that much of a difference.

    Chemcaper sounds like fun!! I am a chemistry major and wish I could teach chemistry. Due to a lack of adequate facilities where I am at now I only teach physical science. I do get to teach basic chemistry and will look forward to seeing what chemcaper has to offer as well.


    • Sarah K says:

      I am also a chemistry major! We should chat more about that because I never find people that love chemistry as much as I do. I’m excited about chemcaper, too. I hope it’s good. I’m really excited to try classcraft with my physical science students this spring. Thanks for sharing that!


  2. aletakmay says:

    Sara, your screen-cast-o-matic came across very clearly. I am reminded how we can use this to teach concepts online that students can watch again later or even make up missed lessons.


  3. Ms. Ramirez says:

    Thank you for sharing your video. I agree with you how there is not a lot of minecraft simulations or gaming projects being taught in all classes. The one’s I usually see are for math, although I do like the classcraft if I was teaching in the middle school. Would you consider using the chemistry one in your classroom?


    • Sarah K says:

      I hope the chemistry game is good because I would love to use it in my classes. I think I might try using classcraft this spring with at least my freshmen to see how it goes.


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