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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 6. Play and Learning


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To play expert Bernie DeKoven, the philosophy of play is simple: Given enough freedom, and people will play. “Freedom is an absolute necessity for the play to be meaningful and for the learning to be something the kids could truly internalize,” he said, when we spoke in 2014. Games should give students freedom to play. Too much structure in a game, or game-like activity, and learning becomes stifled. Play in a game describes “the free space of movement within a more rigid structure” (Salen & Zimmerman, 2003, p. 475).

Humans are hardwired to play (Gray, 2014). It is so ingrained in our genetic code that limiting play can be detrimental to development (Gray, 2014). This chapter reviews the educational and psychological history of play and games. I consulted several experts on play, and where play fits into informal and formal learning environments. First, I review play theories, which help frame the psychology of why games should be used in teaching. Next, I discuss where play fits into spaces like museums, cities, and school. There are many takeaways for you to bring playful experience—like those in this chapter—to your students. ← 101 | 102 →

Theories of Play

Play is inherently difficult to define—it is ambiguous (Sutton-Smith, 1997). Experiences of play are as diverse as are the players themselves that take on agency, as performers of the roles of play (Sutton-Smith, 1997). Brian Sutton-Smith...

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