180 days of learning

180 days of learning

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The Intelligence of Gaming

January 31, 2013 , ,

As educators, we are all familiar with Howard Gardner’s theory of Multiple Intelligences.  Gardner’s work is evident in our daily planning and instruction as we strive to cater to the needs, strengths, and interests of our Linguistic, Mathematical, and Musical learners.  The value of Gardner’s work, which was first published in his 1983 book Frames of the Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences, cannot be questioned.  However, thirty years of social and technological change has prompted the possible recognition of an additional intelligence, the intelligence of GAMING!

According to esrb.org, the site of the Entertainment Software Rating Board, 67% of US households play video games, with the average gamer spending eight hours a week in front of his/her gaming console.  Ironically enough, Indiana University’s High School Survey of Student Engagement (HSSSE) indicated that 67% of students say that they are bored at least every day in school.  These figures do very little to represent a correlation between playing video games and student boredom, but I believe that they do pose a possible solution to the question of how do we increase student engagement.  While teachers might feel as if they are competing against the $10.5 billion gaming industry, we should instead ask ourselves how can we incorporate gaming into our curriculums.

I experimented with gaming earlier this year in my 8th grade US History course.  As a supplemental resource in our unit dealing with the Constitution and Bill of Rights, students played Do I Have a Right?, a game where you run a law firm that specializes in constitutional law.  As a client walked into their firm and explained their situation, students had to decide if a client’s rights were violated, identify what right had been infringed, and pair the client up with the correct lawyer.  At first, students complained, saying that the game was stupid, pointless, or too confusing.  As time went on, however, trial and error and competition led students to an understanding of the game better than my own.  By the end of the period, top scores were being announced and gauntlets were being thrown down.  Students even continued to play the game outside of school, and still, weeks later, ask to play the game in class.

Do I Have a Right? can be found at iCivics.org, a great resource when discussing everything from personal finance to the foundations of government to persuasive writing.  While finding quality gaming sites can be a taxing process, the benefits of bringing this outside interest into your classroom are undeniable.

Screen shot 2013-01-31 at 10.22.59 AM


Riley Heeren, 7th and 8th grade Social Studies teachers, Lincoln Junior High


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