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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 13. The Student as Designer


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When Zack Gilbert was teaching J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring to his 5th graders, students played a simple game. It was designed by one of his students’ parents. To play, you randomly select a card and then set it out along the story’s timeline. “Did the event happen after they left the Shire?” Gilbert recalled, when we spoke in May 2016. The game then led to an organic class discussion.

Next, something interesting happened. “I showed them the game and then they created cards from other books,” he continued. “They mixed up the cards and tried to put them back in order.” The timeline game Gilbert’s class played was similar to the commercial game Timeline, published by Asmodee. Sold at many retailers, there are decks of Timeline for different historical eras. Similarly, BrainPOP’s Time Zone X is a timeline game connected to its library of informational animated content. Both Asmodee’s and BrainPOP’s timeline games are a model that can be easily replicated and then hacked, or changed, by students.

Like Gilbert, I try to engage students by using the “game as model,” in which students play a game a lot, and then remix it, modify it, or wholly redesign to make something original. One foray into this is when I have my students play the commercial, off-the-shelf party game HedBanz and then critically analyze its core mechanics and system. Basically...

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