When video games are brought into learning — and integrated in a way that doesn’t neuter the relevance or obscure what makes the game wonderful — you’ll notice major changes, many of which won’t always be comfortable. Inspiration changes everything. Some students — many of whom may have previously appeared lethargic and apathetic — may be difficult to keep seated, perhaps literally. via Edutopia,The Role of Video Games in the English Classroom


This week I kicked off a brand new unit in my grade nine MYP class.  This unit’s key concept is Perspective.  The unit focuses on Arthur Miller’s A View From the Bridge.  In many ways, the skeleton of this unit is old school.  The assessment and the primary text wouldn’t be out of place in an English classroom from the 70’s.  That’s where my work comes in.  How can I breathe a little light into a dusty, conventional unit?  Last year I tried to do this by workshopping commentary writing skill sets by doing an intensive analysis of Taylor Swift’s 1989 album. You’d be amazed to see the level of contextual understanding we researched together to try and dig into Swift’s songs.  Or maybe you wouldn’t be.  Using ‘teen-friendly’ resources to workshop writing isn’t exactly the most progressive teaching approach.  This year I wanted to level up.


Perspective, perspective, perspective.  I thought about approaches to unpacking that concept with my class–and it hit me:  what better way to teach perspective than to take a different one to teaching.  Here’s when the iPad game (and table top game), Pandemic came to the rescue.

For the first 20 minutes of our lesson, we played.  That’s right–capital ‘P’ playing, in a high school classroom.  That’s when I realized play brings focus, engagement, and flow.

A classroom at play is not unlike our drop everything and read time.  Students bought into the narrative structure of the game, and more importantly, they were being asked to think about ‘perspective,’ without me even having to mention ‘key concept.’


From there, students were asked in groups to discuss the significant themes they ‘read’ in the game.  They also needed to identify the plot, way tension was created, symbolism employed, and charaterization developed.  In short, we treated the game the way we would treat any other text.

Video games could be the greatest storytelling medium of our age – if only the worlds of art and technology would stop arguing and take notice

I stole this idea from an incredible piece in The Guardian “The first great works of digital literature are already being written”

I was thrilled to see this article spreading like wildfire on social media a few weeks ago.  Here’s the line that I find the most relevance in:

The problem is that people who like science and technology, and people who like storytelling and the arts have typically been placed in different buildings since about the age of 16. We haven’t been taught how to admire each others’ work, to recognise excellence, or even to know that there is excellence in “the other culture”.

As an IB practitioner, I’m encouraged to help students think in an interdisciplinary way.  Now, more than ever, teachers need to be mindful that literacy is a shape-shifting concept.  If I want to inspire readers, I need to rethink the definition of a text.

The idea that videogames are more than mere escapism isn’t new.

To what extent is my own research in looking for effective games good for me?

Arguably the most exciting field of research is exploring the potential of video games to tackle mental decline in old age.

While electronic “brain training” games have long had enormous popular appeal, there is no hard evidence playing them has any effect beyond improving your score

But at the University of California, San Francisco, Prof Adam Gazzaley and a team of video game designers have created a game with a difference: Neuroracer. Via BBC Tech News

Experimenting with games reminded me of my own lacking literacy. I was entirely unaware of the many, many worthwhile games out there on the market.  I pride myself on keeping up to date with new fiction and nonfiction, but I have underestimated the world that gamers thrive in.

Video games require the user to make decisions, giving them the chance to influence the story and even in part design the world in which the game is played out, she added.Via The Telegraph

Here is a list of games I found in my research.  Thus far, I agree–they have a lot to offer to the classroom.  Do you know of excellent games with which to spark conversations about ‘perspective,’?  Please share them with me in the comments.