Sometimes, the journey into new terrain can be awfully lonely.
So it was with great surprise that I recently found that another National Writing Project teacher who was in the same exact session as I was on the topic of gaming at last year’s NWP Annual Conference writing has published an article in the Wisconsin English Journal about taking what he learned from the session (led by Alan Gershenfield, of eLine Media) and how he had brought gaming into his own writing curriculum. I have been on the same path, using the information and elements of Gershenfield’s talk for my jump into video gaming as another path into learning with students.
Fifth Grade teacher Greg Kehring, in his article “Tech Tools for Teachers, by Teachers: Video Game Design in the Classroom,” does an excellent job of explaining not only the rationale of why he moved gaming elements into his writing classroom. He also outlines the many ways that video game design and writing process are connected (this is the same avenue that I have been exploring). He also has his kids using Gamestar Mechanic, which is the site that I use.
“When I started this unit. I wanted to offer all students a chance to become truly engaged in the writing process, and all students were immersed in this writing experience (of creating games and keeping a reflection journal). Although it may have been masked in a digital disguise, the traditional writing process was at the core of this project, and all students were able to use it successfully.” – p.30
And Greg’s article helped me sort out something else, too. My ventures into gaming with students so far was with a summer camp project with a certain audience (OK, middle school gaming geeks). I’ve been toying with whether to bring video game design into my school as an after-school activity, or to bring it right into all of my sixth grade classes as an integrated curriculum. Thanks to Greg’s piece, I realize now that I need to bring the concept to all of my students, as part of my regular writing curriculum. There — decision made. And I will have my students do written reflections of their experiences, too, just as Greg’s students did.
Greg and I don’t know each other, but I’m happy to have stumbled onto his work. Thanks, Greg.
Peace (in the games),