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Gamify Your Classroom

A Field Guide to Game-Based Learning


Matthew Farber

This book is a field guide on how to implement game-based learning and «gamification» techniques to the everyday teaching. It is a survey of best practices aggregated from interviews with experts in the field, including: James Paul Gee (Author, What Video Games Have to Teach Us about Learning and Literacy); Henry Jenkins (Provost Professor at University of Southern California); Katie Salen (Founder, Institute of Play); Bernie DeKoven (Author, A Playful Path); Richard Bartle (Bartle’s Player Type Theory); Kurt Squire (Games + Learning + Society Center); Jessica Millstone (Joan Ganz Cooney Center), Dan White (Filament Games); Erin Hoffman (GlassLab Games); Jesse Schell (Schell Games/Professor at Carnegie Mellon); Tracy Fullerton (University of Southern California Game Innovation Lab); Alan Gershenfeld (E-Line Media); Noah Falstein (Chief Game Designer, Google); Valerie Shute (Professor at Florida State University); Lee Sheldon (Author, The Multiplayer Classroom); Robert J. Torres (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation), Asi Burak (President, Games for Change); Toby Rowland (MangaHigh); Jocelyn Leavitt (Hopscotch); Krishna Vedati (Tynker); and researchers at BrainPOP and designers from Electric Funstuff (Mission U.S. games). Each chapter concludes with practical lesson plan ideas, games to play (both digital and tabletop), and links to research further. Much of the book draws on the author’s experiences implementing games with his middle school students. Regardless of your teaching discipline or grade level, whether you are a pre-service teacher or veteran educator, this book will engage and reinvigorate the way you teach and how your students learn!
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← xii | 1 → INTRODUCTION


In 2012 the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop published results of a study about games in the classroom. Five hundred kindergarten through grade-8 teachers participated. The questions were about game-based learning knowledge, integration, and comfort. About 12% of the respondents reported that they had received training about computer-based games while in a teachers’ college (Millstone, 2012). Most teachers said that they had learned about educational games on the job, from colleagues, social media, or journals—not in formal training or college (Millstone, 2012).

Right now there are hundreds of millions of dollars—from the government, universities, and private foundations—in use researching the efficacy of using games for learning. The Cooney Center’s report led me on a quest to interview people at the forefront of game-based learning. What I discovered was a small circle of passionate people. In January 2014 I asked Kurt Squire, co-founder of the Games + Learning + Society Center, about the community of game-based learning advocates. He said, “We all want to make learning engaging for kids, and some aren’t being served well. That’s why we’re here.”

I wrote this book to share what I have learned about using games as an educational tool. I am a “boots-on-the-ground” classroom teacher. I teach middle school social studies in New Jersey, and I am also a doctoral candidate ← 1 | 2 → in Educational Technology Leadership at New Jersey City University, where I am an adjunct instructor. Additionally, I write regularly about game-based learning...

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