Game Based Learning

Game-based learning is not new technique in classrooms.  Teachers have been motivating students through games for years.  Now through the broader use of student computers, iPads, and faster internet connections, games can make a more spectacular impact on student learning and understanding.  Students love the game interfaces with sound and movement.  However, teaching students through games is not as much about the game itself but about the classroom environment the teacher develops.  To make student learning more visible a journalling component must accompany each day’s playing.  Students should reflect on how successful they are in the game and set goals for themselves or their team for the next round of play.  Students can also compare and contrast the situations in the game with the connected literature, novel study, or textbook they are reading with the unit. The opportunity for students partnerships or groups to work (face to face or virtually) toward winning the game enhances the social element of learning. Within the classroom setting, games have been found to provide motivation, enable customized learning experiences, and provide deep engagement (Duebel, 2006).  Games as learning environments are believed to hold more potential because they provide a conceptual framework for acquiring new information (Oblinger, 2004).  This conceptual framework learning has more relevance because it is placed within a meaningful context where content must be applied and practiced (Downs, 2005; Van Eck, 2006), thus, eliminating the existing disconnect and making students more successful at acquiring the material.




SimCity EDU

By far the best site for interactive class games.  More than 15 to choose from. Directly coorlate to common core standards in social studies and science as well as language arts.  Apply critical thinking skills and social, emotional skills through game based learning.

Sim City-States:  The Influence of Geography

Students contrast two city states of ancient Greece and explore how their geographical locations affected their nature and development. They then select their own site for a city-state to fulfill these visions. This supports the study of ancient Greece as they connect various readings, maps, and cultural studies of this great civilization.Good for grades 3 – 5.

Power to the People: Energy Consumption, Costs & Consequences

Students will study fossil fuels, nuclear power and renewable energy sources – including wind and solar – from a city building perspective to determine how to power their SimCity – and why. Great for grades 6 – 12Takes 3 – 4 class periods.

Building Blocks: Geometry & Math-Minded (Sim)City Building

Students will investigate the interplay of geometry and thoughtful city planning and design before they begin building their own SimCity streets. What is geometry – and its purpose? Where might you see everyday examples of geometry in your city (or town)? Where do you see everyday examples of geometry in our nation’s capital – Washington DC?How might geometry be used design a city – and solve city wide problems?

How might geometry be used to solve SimCity styled problems?

If You Can’t Experiment, Simulate: Simulations as Scientific Tools

Students examine the use of models and simulations as a complement to standard experimentation in scientific study. They use SimCity to conduct a simulation experiment of their own design. Understanding Scientific Method

Sid Meier’s games

RailRoads! And RailRoad Tycoon 3

Civilization-Revolution (video)

Age of Empires  (video)

The Conquerors Expansion

Gods and Kings

Civilization: Cradle of Civilization – Mediterranean

Cradle of Civilization – Americas

Civilization V: Cradle of Civilization – Asia



These are completely interactive games with excellent animation, sound, and scoring. Students work individually or in groups to win the game through reaching specific goals. Social studies themes that are best enhanced through these games:Understanding the Robber barons of the 1880s.

Roman and Greek Civilizations

Colonization of India, Africa, South American and North America

Beginning of communism.



Tons of great math games that students play virtually with classmates to earn points and win the games. These are shorter games for the first or last few minutes of class.  Great for a review.  Grades 2 – 8

DragonBox app for iPad and on Windows

Teaches Algebra on two different learning levels: PreAlgebra concepts and applying algebra concepts

Quandary:  The Dawn of a new society… How will you decide?

You are captain of a group on a new planet.  You can choose your person, your role.  You must make strong choices to help the indigenous people in several tasks.  You can work with a group to read and interact with the natives. A great way to look at reasons Europeans set sail to ‘conquer’ the New World.Discuss fairness for minority groups in different cultures and countries.

The Oregon Trail

Students role play people along the Oregon Trail in the 1880s.  Real life problems occur that the student must solve. Great way to review and connect to US History.

World War 1

Trench Warfare

Students face the challenges of life in the trenches.  They must make decisions on armament, strategy, and sending troops over the top. Great way to allow students to apply their understanding of WWI facts.  Accompanies: All Quiet on the Western Front or War Horse.

Articles to read

How Gamification Works.

Haskell, Chris, Ph.D. “How Gamification Works.” 3D GameLab. Go Go Labs, 27 June 2013. Web. 09 Sept. 2013. <;.

Instead of courses consisting mainly of textbook learning and lectures, classes built using game mechanics such as badges, experience points, levels and leaderboards, boost student engagement by allowing students to choose from “quests” and progress at their own pace through a series of educational activities.
Game based Learning Ideas from ISTE Miller, Andrew. “Game-Based Learning Ideas from ISTE.” Edutopia. Edutopia, 26 June 2013. Web. 09 Sept. 2013. <;. It’s clear that there are more and more tools and resources out there to help support implementation of GBL in the classroom.
Video Games Are The Perfect Way To Teach Math, Says Stanford MathematicianShapiro, Jordan. “Video Games Are The Perfect Way To Teach Math, Says Stanford Mathematician.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 29 Aug. 2013. Web. 09 Sept. 2013. <;. Game based learning will lay the foundation for new ways of thinking, encouraging us to look at the process of learning traditionally Apollonian subjects from a Dionysian perspective.

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