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Gamestar Mechanic: Teaching game design in the classroom

What it is: I just love when I get lost in a bunny trail of links…you know the kind, you go hunting for something specific and click on something that looks interesting which leads you to a browser of 25 tabs open.  I had one of these serendipitous link moments today that lead me to Gamestar Mechanic.  Gamestar Mechanic is both a game and an online community that teaches kids how to design their own digital games.  In designing games, students learn systems thinking, creative problem solving, art and aesthetics, writing and storytelling, and creates a motivation for further STEM exploration.  The free version of Gamestar Mechanic is available with unlimited use for teachers who want to use it with their students.  This account option comes with 1 teacher login and 40 student logins.  A premium account offers some additional classroom goodies including: class management, the ability for students to incorporate their own custom artwork, live professional training webinars, tools for tracking student activity and assessing progress, the option of having a “walled” school community, and more. As a teacher you will find sample lessons for using Gamestar Mechanic, an introductory step-by-step guide, and a full learning guide.  Teachers can even play a short quest to learn more about how to use Gamestar Mechanic in the classroom to teach core subjects. How to integrate Gamestar Mechanic into the classroom:  There is so much to learn from digital games.  As a player, students learn to think strategically, persist through failure and experience epic wins that can translate to what they do and are willing to try out in real life.  As a designer students learn systems thinking, creative problem solving, digital art and aesthetics, and storytelling and writing.  Students love being able to bring their creations and ideas to life in the form of a game.  Gamestar Mechanic could be the key to unlocking the storytelling genius in your reluctant writers.  It has been my experience that a student faced with a blank paper and a writing assignment can be daunting.  Introduce the idea of designing their own game and suddenly a storyline pours forth.  It is pretty neat to watch! Gamestar Mechanic makes it easy for all teachers to incorporate game design into the classroom and weave it into the core subjects being taught.  You don’t have to be a tech-superstar, just create an account, read through the getting started guide and enlist the help of a student who’s passion is game design.  This type of designing and thinking is wonderful because it lays the ground work for so much other STEM thinking.  It nicely blends disciplines and helps students recognize the overlap in the learning that they do. Students can each create a game of their own in a lab setting where every student has a computer.  If you are limited on your computer options for students, create a game as a class using an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer.  Students can create games that incorporate other learning or research they are doing to help teach future classes or younger students.  At Anastasis, we have Crave Classes.  These are classes that the student gets to choose based on personal passions.  In the one or two computer classroom, give your students time for a Crave class where they work on Gamestar Mechanic.  Other students can follow their areas of passion…almost in a center type of a set up. Tips:  There are a variety of pricing and package options for classrooms.  If your students are really enjoying the game design process, it might be worth taking a look at the premium options available. Please leave a comment and share how you are using Gamestar Mechanic in  your classroom!

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Edublog awards: a thank you note

Posted by admin | Posted in General | Posted on 03-12-2012

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Wow!  Somehow the #Edublog awards snuck right up on me without me noticing. The problem with this: I completely missed the part where you get to nominate your edu heroes.  That is a bummer!  I seem to be about a week behind in my life in general this year.

I am so honored to be included in this year’s nominations.  Thank you to those of you who considered me worthy of mention.  I so appreciate all of my readers and those of you who give me consistent encouragement- you keep me going (even a week behind)!

This year I was nominated for  Best Ed Tech Blog (I assume that means iLearn Technology).  This blog is truly a labor of love.  I haven’t been as good at updating daily as I have in the past, but I do manage a few times a week.  For now that is a MAJOR accomplishment.  Thank you to all of my readers.  I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you and how it keeps me going to know that others benefit from iLearn Technology.  You are wonderful.

The next award, I’m not quite sure what to do with this one.  It is a lifetime achievement award.  Don’t get me wrong, I am absolutely floored and flattered.  However; I am 30 years old.  I hope this doesn’t mark my lifetime achievement :)  I still have the Learning Genome to launch.  THAT will be an achievement!  On the other hand, if I have peaked at 30- I am blessed.  I’ve started a school (Anastasis Academy) that I believe honors children every day.  That is an achievement!

 

Thank you to all of you who have nominated me, who believe in me, who cheer me on and keep me going.  I honestly couldn’t do what I do without you.  Thank you!

If you are interested in finding some truly incredible blogs/projects/people to follow, you should take a look through the Edublogs nominees.  SO many people to inspire you!  Voting is taking place until December 9th here.  Of course I am flattered by votes.  If you recognize or find new eduheroes, it really is an encouragement to be recognized for what you do.  Vote for your favorites.

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