I am interested in knowing of any educational gaming that you have encountered that has made a difference in your classroom. I know that I am slow on the up take in this area, but a student brought in the game "Civilizations" and it seemed like a great way to hit some Social Studies standards. Has any one tried an endeavor such as this and if so, what was your experience?

Tags: gaming, interactive, learning, standards

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I'm looking into this more myself. I plan on attending "Get in the Game, TEACH!". This is a conference in Troy, NY and is free to local educators. If anyone else is in the Albany/Troy area and wants to attend let me know.
Let me know what you find. It is definitely something I would like to learn more about. Maybe some of the NECC attendees could help us out.
My Grade 12 Western Civ class has played the Hasbro board game Diplomacy against a class in Edmonton (about 1100 km from here) every fall. The game involves the secret negotiations that led to WWI (along with the making and breaking of alliances). For negitations we use an online bulletin board and post updates to the game there. Most of the kids really like this game.

I've tried having the same class play Civilization (the computer game) but they didn't like that. Next fall I hope to try Civilization with my Grade 9 Social Studies classes. www.HistoryCanadaGame.com has developed a free add on to this game so you can play the last 500 years of Canadian history in the game.

There's a wide variety of board games that can be used in the class. The one I've used the most is Empire Builder, a train game where you use crayons to draw the train tracks you're building on a plasticized map of North America. It's a sneaky way to teach geography to unsospecting souls.
I am interested in what worked and didn't work with the Civilization game. What are you going to try differently with your 9th graders to try and make it more successful. I guess this is the only game I recognize and see the potential for hitting some Ancient Civilization standards.
I think when I first tried Civ I did have it clear enough in my own mind what I wanted to accomplish with the game. When I played Sim City with my Geography class, I saw very clearly how that game accomplished the cirricular objectives (and how it was way more interesting than the textbook) so it was easy to steer my students to "discover" the right things. If I try the Canadian variant of Civ with my Grade 9s this fall, then I need to be clearer in my own mind just what the game is supposed to teach the kids.

Also, Civ is a relatively complex game for newbies. I will likely work up a better tutorial or cheat sheet than I had last time. Since the learning curve is steeper, the support needs to be more extensive.
There's also an Age of Mythology game, where you encounter either the Greek/Roman, Norse or Egyptian Pantheons--my son learned all about the Egyptian pantheon (he even read some of the supplementary materials that came with the game, and then researched an aspect of two online). It centers on Myths and legends of these ancient peoples, more than historical accuracy. A more historical game, Age of Empires, I've heard of but not seen played.
There're also the "Where in ... is Carmen Sandiego" and the "oregon trail" games.
Oh, and new freebies like the Timez Attack game which teaches the times tables by having a character travel through a dungeon battling trolls by correctly answering questions...
I used to love Gizmos and Gadgets for younger kids, wonder if it is still around...it included simple science concepts like making a complete circuit and magnetism and such.
Tina--If you'd get hold of Glenn Wiebe in Hutchinson, he has a TON of this info. In fact, he has a Wii sitting on his desk/cubicle. He's a terrific trainer of teachers and has lots of ideas/game info.

I personally have been trying to get kids to create games to some limited success. StageCast has worked, but is a favorite of theirs. Blender is a little complicated. Sauerbraten, a first-person shooter OSS game has had a lot more excitement, and they're learning how to re-program it to eliminate the shooter aspect. I just learned about Scratch yesterday; it seems to have the most possibilities and I can't wait to send it to my kids for exploration this summer! :) Yep, they work for me in the summer if I send the right "hook."

I think all these games are OSS. However, I also think that PS2 has a game called "guitar god" where kids can play guitar, which can be good if you need to put some zing into a music class/workshop. There are also some other interesting pieces out there like a Karaoke version of American Idol...I also think that's with PS2.

There are LOTS of educational options out there for just players, but dang it--can't they also learn to MAKE the games now?? I know you'll have some kids just eating that up!! I give them the tool, ask them to take a piece of history or something academic and create a game around it!

*gosh it seems like I'm a gamer, but I'm NOT at all. I just know kids love it and am trying to pay attention to what engages them*
Oh--StageCast is NOT a favorite of theirs!!
curious - why not stagecast? and have you tried Game Maker (a favorite in the very srong Australian game-making with students teacher groups?)

I wrote about this in my blog.
The students who have worked with StageCast don't like the 2D aspect of the games. They think they're so 80s-like and are looking for more 3D types of design. I tried to tell them they have to be successful with walking before running, and I reminded them they thought Blender was too complicated. I think I even referenced Goldilocks in the conversation! :) So far, Sauerbraten has been their favorite, but I'll send GameMaker and Scratch their way to see what they come up with!
Thanks so much for the names and references. Is Glenn Wiebe with ESDACK?
Yes, he is. :) Great guy and a great help to many!

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