Through this experience of video game exploration, I have learned a lot about the value of video games in the classroom. I must admit, when I first learned that we would be dedicating a chunk of time in class to video games, I wasn’t too thrilled. I have never been a big video gamer, and quite honestly am slightly technologically deficient compared to the vast majority of people in my generation. So, the thought of using video games in my classroom as an educational tool was very unsettling for me. However, as I have learned from my time in college, I entered into this lesson with as open of a mind as possible, and really sought to learn as much as I could about the educational purposes of video games. Slightly to my surprise, I found the theory behind the educational value of video games to be fascinating. As one of my group members pointed out, video games and literature share a lot in common. Both take the student into worlds they may never experience otherwise, offer different perspectives and thoughts about universal issues, and engage the student to take up an identity other than their own. This alignment made a lot of sense to me, and made me think about video games in a new light. I also loved the thought that our mind processes like a simulation. I thought about the way I often visualize thoughts in my mind while working through certain tasks. This was a simulation! I found that to be another thought that made so much sense, but something I would never think about. Overall, the theory behind video game play in the classroom really encouraged me to find value in these experiences.
However, while I found a lot of enjoyment in the philosophy of gaming, actually playing my game was far less satisfying. Overall, I found my game to be underwhelming in terms of educational value. Yes, it was entertaining and engaging, but there were issues within the game that led it to be more frustrating than pleasing, and more confusing than educational. This was difficult to face as I had just read so much about how good video games could add to a class so greatly. Then I found myself reading some of my fellow classmates thoughts on the different video games. Through this I was able to see that there were great games that could be incorporated into the classroom very effectively. I just had to do a greater search. This is the point I am currently at. I am excited to continue an exploration into the world of video games in education. In a world in which technology is becoming more and more prevalent in everything we do, I think being able to add video games into the classroom would be a great skill to have. And, although it may take some time, I believe I will be able to find accessible, educational games that can enhance my classroom’s learning experience just as a great new book can. I am excited to continue this learning throughout my education and career as an educator!
While I had hoped that by putting more time and effort into the Nancy Drew game I would be able to solve the case, I have found myself still unable to crack the code. This has been both incredibly frustrating and educational. While the game definitely has educational value, I think there are more issues than benefits in this case. As I stated in my first blog post, I think this game could offer great value in a literature lesson covering the genre of detective fiction. It allows the students to enter into the world of detectives, clues, and bad guys that they read about in detective fiction knowledge. In this way, it allows for a greater ability to visualize the settings or experiences depicted in the novels. This elements connects with Gee’s principle of identity, in which the student takes on a different identity which allows for a deeper investment in learning. The students take on the role of the detective, so they are more invested in learning about the detective fiction genre.
However valuable the identity-taking characteristic of the game is, there are other characteristics that go against Gee’s principles. For example, the game is full of problems that must be solved, but they aren’t well-ordered. As the gamer, you can come across a puzzle that you have to solve, but if you solve that puzzle it doesn’t necessarily lead you right to the next puzzle. Rather, you have to explore the entire camp site and discover the clues and puzzles on your own. This can lead to confusion because it doesn’t guide the player as much as it should. If solving a puzzle lead to another which eventually lead to the answer to the case, it would be a more effective game for educational purposes. However, it is solely up to the player to figure out the order of clues and discover which tasks have to happen first in order to solve the case. While there is some guidance, such as the task list, it doesn’t explicitly say which steps to take when.
Personally, I found this issue the biggest downfall of the game because it lead me to focus so much on the individual tasks that I couldn’t figure out the big picture. It also caused me to waste a lot of time just wondering around looking for clues that weren’t there. It took me at least an hour to just figure out how to navigate the entire camp site. The timeliness of this game makes it less appealing for me to incorporate into a lesson. I don’t think I would want my students spending so much time just trying to figure out a puzzle that isn’t event the main point of the lesson. Sure, it encourages critical thinking skills, but I just don’t know that it would be beneficial enough to have my students spend time on. I feel as though there are different ways I can allow my students to enter into an identity of detective that are more productive than this one.
The game I chose to play was Nancy Drew: The Tomb of the Lost Queen. I found this game on a websites list of “top games for homeschoolers” I believe. The producers of this game are HER Interactive, and they have an entire series of this game that have a bunch of different plots. You could either download the game onto your computer from the website, buy a disk version of the game, or I was able to find certain plots in the App store on my laptop. Unfortunately, the game did cost money, so it is not as accessible as I would hope to be. However, I was intrigued and found this game one that I felt I could most easily incorporate into my english class while adding value to the course.
This game is based off of the well-known detective character in a long running book series named “Nancy Drew Mystery Stories”. These books were published under the pseudonym Carolyn Keene. They are youth oriented detective fiction novels where Nancy solves all sorts of crimes and mysteries! I thought that playing the interactive video game would be an excellent opportunity to incorporate certain literary concepts such as plot, and the overall genre of detective fiction into a classroom. So, I began to play Nancy Drew- The Tomb of the Lost Queen.
I took on the role of Nancy Drew, and was tasked to solve who attacked an archaeologist on a dig site which was thought to be a burial site for a missing queen. Since the crime happened in such a remote setting, there was a limited amount of suspects, but sneaking the investigation around the two was difficult, and I even got caught once and “lost” the game.
After this quick attempt, I learned more about how to navigate the game. Basically, I could follow the arrows given to me to move around the camp site. And when I came across something that was significant, the screen would zoom up to a puzzle or challenge that could help me solve the case. I could also carry things I found with me to help discover clues. Aside from all of these things, I was also somewhat guided in my actions through the tasks bar on the bottom of my screen. After I would come across something significant, usually a task would appear that needed to be completed. In this, the player is guided to succeed. If you complete the tasks, you solve the mystery.
While this may seem like a fairly easy game, I was honestly having a difficult time solving all of the riddles/ puzzles and completing the list. I didn’t understand how I could complete some of my tasks, and some of them were just difficult. This was not what I had expected when I looked into the game. I was expecting a more plot-driven, continuously progressing game in which along the way gamers had to make certain decisions. What was in my mind was similar to how the refugee simulation game we played in class. This Nancy Drew game was much more independently based, and could lead to major frustration if not succeeding. While I really did enjoy the experience of playing, being unable to achieve my goal of finding the Professor’s attacker really aggravated me.
There are plenty of connections in this game to the standards Gee speaks of in his work “Good Video Games, the Human Mind, and Good Learning”. The most relevant one I believe is connected is the concept of fish bowls. I think this game acts as a fish bowl inside of the world of detective fiction. It allows the gamer to visually enter the realm of the novels being read. If I were to use this game in class, I would use it during a lesson on detective fiction. However, whether or not this game is suitable for class is questionable. If I was unable to solve it, will my students be able to? It might be too independent that it will hinder active thinking because the tasks aren’t as easily completed as they should be. Also, as I thought this game would be much more plot-based and it wasn’t, I am unsure it will relate completely to the class. I still have a lot more time to spend on the game, and hopefully I am able to crack the case in order to see if this would be a valuable addition to the classroom.
One question I have for my classmates is do you think that adding a different method of displaying the world you are reading about(i.e. this game) would be beneficial for students or distracting from the original text?
Hello! My name is Maggie and I am from Cleveland, Ohio! I am a junior, English & AYA major. Outside of school, I am an aspiring photographer and love hiking, kayaking, and just being outside with my dog Ruby & friends. I also thoroughly enjoy a good book or movie inside! As a former athlete, I help coach a youth girls basketball and softball team!
When it comes to learning, I think that the most important aspect that must in place in the classroom is mutual respect. When mutual respect is established throughout the entire class, I think that every student becomes more comfortable taking creative risks and speaking in class.
While this video may not be an essay I believe the words Rita Pierson states should be taken extremely seriously. She speaks of the importance of human connection; specifically between student and teacher. It highlights the importance of connecting with your students as people first, and putting the information they must learn as second priority. I find this to be so important because as a teacher, if you don’t connect with your students you won’t be able to properly educate them. Students will not engage and reach their fullest potential if they don’t feel in connection with their teacher. I think this is so important to realize & just a good reminder for me as I begin my professional career as an educator. In today’s world that pushes high test scores on high stakes tests, I believe it’s easy to focus solely on the information the students must learn. The student becomes a vessel that must intake knowledge rather than a human being with complex feelings & thoughts outside of school. So that is why I love this thought about being a champion for your students. It focuses on their humanity first.
A question I have for Dr. Shutkin is what drew you to studying technology in the educational field?
While reading Gloria Ladson-Billing’s essay regarding culturally relevant pedagogy, the title “but that’s just good teaching!” was constantly running through my head. The three main pillars of culturally relevant pedagogy consist of 1) students must experience academic success, 2) students must develop and/or maintain cultural competence, and 3) students must develop a critical consciousness through which they challenge the status quo of the current social order. I read those three pillars and think, those are outcomes of good teaching. So I was sort of caught in an internal debate over this reading. Why do we need to specify the type of pedagogy this refers to? Why do we have to ensure it’s effectiveness in minority students? Why can’t we just call it good teaching for every single student no matter who they are? Then I start to think about some of the other lessons we’ve learned in school and society. I remember the schools which tried to teach Native Americans how to be more white. I remember the lessons on school segregation, desegregation, and the resegregation we are seeing in our schools today.
And then I come to the conclusion that no matter how hard I try, I can’t solve these issues that have been inherited by our society easily. I cannot assume that every potential and current teacher in this country believes in the value of their students’ cultural identities. While the criteria of this pedagogy are simply good teaching practices, our education system has become so accustomed to a mechanically driven learning process, that these good teaching practices are not being used. With the emphasis on testing and teaching to the test, who the students are outside of school becomes less important. The test doesn’t care who you are or what you believe in or how you feel. And through these tests we’ve created a school atmosphere which parallels those feelings. So students go about their days disengaged, feeling like a piece of a machine rather than a growing individual. And with this lack of emphasis on the individual students, the majority culture is inherited. So the school becomes a place where those in minority populations feel like outcasts in a place they are supposed to feel welcomed and valued. Without an emphasis on the individual the school becomes a place that continues to deprive minority students to thrive.
That’s why culturally relevant pedagogy has to be so specific and valued. Because, if we don’t emphasize the importance of every individual student feeling valued and respected for who they are, our schools become a reinforcing agent of only one culture. And when only one culture is present, the students who don’t fit into that culture begin to resent that school; because the school does not consider them. When this happenings, the reading showed us that students begin to fail in school. Also as the reading showed us, there are ways to combat this by engaging the students through culturally-relevant lessons. Not only does this ensure each individual students’ cultural heritage becoming relevant to the classroom environment, but also the students’ overall interest in popular culture. The reading highlighted methods such as the students bringing in their own music and other effective ways to incorporate culture into lessons. This engages students, and through that engagement they learn that they are capable of great change if they set their minds to it. They see the world, as flawed and in need of change as it is, and are optimistic because they know they have the potential and the value to create that change. In the end, it does come back to just good teaching. It’s good teaching that helps students see their worth and potential for who they are, and helps them become agents of change.
I think that there are two factors which contribute the most to the school to prison pipeline. The first is the use of policies that stem from zero tolerance. These policies create an atmosphere in which students are shown they are easily disposed of. If they commit a wrong action, they are expelled, suspended, or simply thrown out of class and left to do their work on their own. These methods reward the students in some ways because if they are acting out, it is most likely because they do not wish to be in class; so when they are kicked out of class for their actions, the student achieves their goal. Also these methods have an extremely negative impact on student’s academic achievement. As the article displayed, these students who are acting out are often doing so because of poverty, mental illness, trauma, or different cognitive/developmental disorders. This means that the students who are getting into trouble, are often the ones who need additional educational intervention the most. However, with zero tolerance policies these students are taken out of their learning environments, and punished in both an expulsion or suspension, but also in limiting their learning opportunities. So, it creates a system in which the students who act out are the ones who struggle in their educational development. This only leads to a further development of aggravation or frustration in the student towards school as a whole. These emotions can lead to more violent behavior, or outbursts that cause the student to be punished again, and continue to suffer academically. The punishments are feeding into the violence or noncooperation that they are supposed to diminish.
The other factor that I believe contributes to the school to prison pipeline is the extensive security measures that are so common in schools today. With things like metal detectors, security cameras, and security guards, the atmosphere of the school is gravely impacted. Instead of a nurturing, safe, home-like environment that a school should be, the school becomes a dangerous, scary, and restrictive place. The establishment of these security measures makes the student feel as though something bad is always going to happen, or that they are being treated like expected criminals. Either set of emotions is detrimental to the learning development of students. However, the second contributes more to the school to prison pipeline. For, if students are treated like expected criminals because they are always being watched or accused of crimes, they are more likely to see themselves as criminals. With the resentment that can develop because of this, the student is more likely to give up on school and just act out. This leads to punishment, and ultimately, as the reading displayed, an ill-decided sentence in juvenile prison. If a student is unable to see their worth, and all they can see in themselves is a potential criminal in a prison-like school, then it makes sense they would act out. Instead of nourishing students schools are acting as though they don’t deserve an education if they don’t follow all the rules exactly. This is not what public education, or education as a whole is about. It’s about helping the students who need a good education the most, even if they aren’t the best of students. It’s not about punishing the bad and rewarding the good. It’s about finding a way to teach every student that they have potential, a purpose, and that through their education they are able to achieve any goal. Instead of punishing our students and creating atmospheres of anxiety and brutality, we need to teach our students and create an atmosphere of peace and comfort.
How can you focus on the mundanity of school when you never know when your father, or mother, or you could be taken from your home and sent back to a country you aren’t even familiar with? How could you learn algebra or read a book or do anything besides constantly worry about if your family will stay another night in their home? These are some of the questions that come to mind when I consider the difficulties illegal immigrant students must face. Not only do they have to perform at the standards of educational success that limits true learning, but they have to do so when encompassed in a world of outside worries. I can’t imagine the difficulty of this. Trauma is an aspect of life that should always be considered when teaching, no matter what the population. However, illegal immigrant children are particularly susceptible to early trauma. Whether it be the traumatic experience of watching a parent or loved one deported, a lack of a stable home environment, or simply the trauma of constantly worrying about whether or not you will be deported, these children deal with issues that most kids don’t have to deal with. This trauma is affecting the students educational success as these students are at risk for academic underperformance. And they typically lack any additional support outside of the school system.
This is where the role of schools and teachers come into play in this complicated matter. As the reading and the learning experience displayed, teachers are legally not allowed to reveal the immigration status of their students. In this, teachers are given an opportunity to develop a trusting relationship with these students and potentially offer them the additional support they are in need of. As the article points out, illegal students may not only have a need for additional educational needs, but also for psychosocial functions as well. Due to the trauma that can occur to illegal immigrants, these students may be suffering from PTSD, depression, or anxiety that is rooted in trauma. As I learned in a psychology of trauma class last semester, these are all common responses to trauma. Even if the student did not experience any trauma they can remember, if their parents had a traumatic experience when immigrating, they can pass that trauma down to their children. This is called transgenerational trauma. In either scenario, these students are at a disadvantage to other students who may have experienced trauma and sought counseling to help deal with that trauma. Illegal immigrants do not have the opportunity to get that. That is why schools should attempt to offer as much support as possible for these students. Because of the unique legality of the issue, schools have the opportunity to help these students cope with their trauma. In doing so, they would most likely help them succeed more in school. For in dealing with their trauma, it is more likely that they will find school work less difficult.
As I attended a Catholic High School, my schools demographics were not available through that website. However, I know that my school is not a very diverse school. Unfortunately that was one of the negatives of attending a private school, they commonly lack diverse populations. Whether this was because of school location or school price, I cannot be certain. Either way it is difficult to come to terms with this, because I loved my school and greatly appreciated all the educational opportunities I received from attending it. Yet I can’t say that the lack of diversity is something I can simply pass over, because schools such as mine are contributing to the resegregation of schools across the country. As the rest of the class data suggested, there is a lack of diversity in schools, or at least the schools we all attended. While it is not state-mandated, segregation is occurring in our school systems and it needs to be addressed. It can be viewed as economic segregation, but ultimately this returns to racial segregation. There is no easy way to solve this problem, but acknowledging that this is a reality is the first step. I believe that most people in our society do not see this as an issue, so it must be brought up. That is the only way we can begin to address a long-standing issue of racial division in our democratic school system.
Brown v. Board of Education(1954 & 55) is the most well-known court decision that addresses segregation in schools. In this case, it was decided that school segregation was entirely unconstitutional and overturned the concept of “separate but equal” decision in Plessy v. Ferguson(1896) which legalized segregation. Although Brown v. Board stated school segregation was against the constitution, implementing this decision was difficult. For in the 1950s racism was still rampant throughout society, and the case order was vague and largely ignored. As the decision ordered to desegregate schools “with all deliberate speed” many local school districts found ways around this order. There was no clear idea about what “deliberate speed” meant, and little federal enforcement of desegregation. This lead to subsequent court decisions to effectively enforce the order behind Brown v. Board. As the reading highlighted, Green v. County School Board (1968) was the most important of these additional court decisions. In a school district utilizing “freedom of choice” programming, the vagueness of Brown v. Board allowed these schools to be completely segregated. In this court decision, many of the oversights in Brown were addressed. It created a structure in which a school district could be controlled by the local government only after they showed the courts discrimination had been eliminated and resegregation would not be possible. The district would have to display an implementation of non-discriminatory policy before the federal government would return control of the schools to them. It helped enforce the decision of Brown as it went into more specific details about how and at what pace the desegregation of schools would happen. While Green allowed for the implementation of desegregation, it was the Brown decision which was the foundation of desegregation as a whole. Both cases are extremely important to the educational system in the United States, and though both have been overlooked in various ways, remain to be significant cases in our history. As we attempt to fix the resegregation that is occurring in our schools today, we must look back to these decisions to guide us about how we may ensure segregation does not occur in our schools any longer than it already has.