Tech Trends Assignment

Games have been around for certainly as long as I can remember.  Even the term “game” itself tends to describe a positive and fun experience.  Years ago, I would not have described myself as a “gamer” (still am not really).  Back then (15 years ago), I thought gaming was a waste of time and brain power.  I had one experience years ago that changed my thinking.

As a new teacher, I was asked by students to be a “computer group” sponsor.  So, as with any new teacher wanting to get involved, I agreed.  When I went to the first meeting that day, I encountered not a “computer” group but a “gaming” group.  I don’t even remember what game they were playing, but I have never seen a group of kids (most of whom were not great students) so ENGAGED!!  I could barely get their attention.  My first thought was to turn off the game right away, but I decided to jump in and see what they were doing.  I hate violence in games, but the strategy needed was incredible!  It required a lot of analytical and algorithmic thinking to be successful.  At that point, I remember thinking I need to work with this and use it in my classroom.  Have I?  Well, not exactly.  Time has gone by and I haven’t done much with the concept of integrating game based learning into the classroom.  My hope is that will change.

Alice is a 3D programming environment that helps students visualize the ideas of Object Oriented Programming — objects, functions, methods, etc.  I just started using it in my Intro to Programming class last year as an intro to Java and the kids love it.

The lesson I have created below is not for my programming class, but for my Algebra class.  For my Programming final last year, students were asked to create an interactive quiz in Alice (on any subject).  I created one to quiz my students on systems of equations.  I used it last year and now my students always want to be quizzed in that method.  If I had the time, I would absolutely mix in more games.  It tests the same material but in a much more engaging and interactive way.

Here is a demo of the quiz:

Standards Implementation:
1.1 Analyzing instruction to deliver better methods for presenting material.
3.1 Using resources (Horizon Report) to improve learning.


Posted on October 28, 2012, in 1.1 Instructional Systems Design, 3.1 Media Utilization, 3.3 Implementation and Institutionalization, Standard 1: Design, Standard 3: Utilization and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I really like the idea of game-based learning and have been looking for a relatively easy way to create and incorporate it into my classes. The challenge is finding a “game shell” that can be customized enough with my content but robust enough to not require all of the game actions etc… to be programmed. If you have any ideas other than Alice, I would love to hear them. I definitely think that game-based learning will dramatically decrease the reliance on sites such as Khan that seem to be glorified “drill and kill” and teach the critical thinking skills (if strategy based) that our students need. Great job!

  2. Hi, Beth,

    It’s good to see the application of games in education! I love games, especially computer games. I learned a lot from them. There is a motivational switch that gets activated during games, especially problem-solving games, that provides an essential educational catalyst. I still remember well the concepts of thrust and trajectory from 7th grade because of the time I spent playing cannon fight on a TRS80 Model 4P (“Don’t push the orange button!” It was the reset button and wiped the RAM.) I agree with Bill that the challenge is to find a good shell or seed program you can use that does not require one to get bogged down in programming. Kudos!


  3. Beth, I liked how you married the Alice program with the math skills or concepts (equations) — often Alice is used in isolation (eg. to teach programming) not as a tool that can be used to support another subject. I really appreciated the fact that you also included the video exemplar with the lesson. If someone did not have the background it gives them an idea of what Alice is and how it could work elsewhere. Thanks for sharing your lesson. Great stuff!

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