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Gamify Your Classroom

A Field Guide to Game-Based Learning – Revised edition


Matthew Farber

This completely revised and expanded field guide is packed with new innovative ideas on how to implement game-based learning and gamification techniques in everyday teaching. With nearly two dozen more experts than the first edition, this book contains interviews with more than 70 authorities in the field, including academics such as James Paul Gee, Kurt Squire, Mizuko (Mimi) Ito, Lee Sheldon, Jordan Shapiro, and Mary Flanagan. The author also shares conversations with experts from numerous organizations such as Common Sense Media, iCivics, DragonBox, Connected Camps, GlassLab Games, Schell Games, Institute of Play, Games for Change, BrainPOP, Tiggly, Toca Boca, ThinkFun, BrainQuake, Filament Games, BreakoutEDU, Kahoot, Classcraft, and more. Featuring a new introduction, as well as a foreword from USA Today’s national K-12 education writer Greg Toppo, this book provides new practical lesson plan ideas, ready-to-use games, and links for further research in each updated chapter. Included are best practice recommendations from star game-based learning teachers, including Steve Isaacs, Peggy Sheehy, Michael Matera, Rafranz Davis, Zack Gilbert, and Paul Darvasi. Regardless of your teaching discipline or grade level, whether you are new to game-based learning or if you have experience and want to take a deeper dive, this book will engage and reinvigorate the way you teach and how your students learn!

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Chapter 4. Balanced Design Digital Games


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Jordan Shapiro is the Senior Fellow at the Joan Ganz Cooney Center, a Forbes contributor on topics about global education, and an international thought leader on game-based learning. In late 2014, he coauthored the MindShift Guide to Digital Games + Learning (the free PDF download is linked at the end of this chapter). Most of Shapiro’s work pertains to learning through digital play. Because of this, I asked him what teachers should look for in a good learning game. “Make sure the mechanics themselves—even the user interface itself—is the subject matter,” he said, when we spoke in May 2016. “The game shouldn’t be a platformer [like Super Mario Bros.] that has math problems. The game has to be an instrument of the subject you are talking about. It’s not a game that rewards you for reading; it’s a game that makes you understand how reading works.”

Similarly, game-based learning scholar James Paul Gee told me in 2014 that he advocates “getting really beautiful games—where the content and mechanic are well married—into some sort of learning system.” When bringing educational games to your classroom, look for balanced design. Balanced design are games “where the learning goals, game mechanics and judgments about learner play and performance are aligned” (Beall, Clarke-Midura, Groff, Owen, & Rosenheck, 2015, p. 7). What the student does in the game is what ← 63 | 64 → the teacher needs him or her...

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