Finding the Riches in Game-Based Learning

Using GBL to maximize enrichment benefits in the classroom

By Caitlin Unterman, 8th Grade Science Teacher, Forest Middle School (VA)

Most in the education world believe that enrichment is the most important goal of a classroom. Teachers focus on creating opportunities that simultaneously enrich and engage students. However, many fail to recognize what is actually enrichment, and what is simply reinforcement.

Enrichment, by definition, is “the act of making someone wealthier.” I like to think this is wealth in the form of knowledge. Do a simple Google search and you find another definition of enrichment: “improving or enhancing the quality or value of something”.

Both definitions apply to our classrooms. And there is no better way to enhance the value of “something” than by adding what kids love best: games.

Another simple Google search can find you the EdTech definition of game-based learning: “Generally, game based learning is designed to balance subject matter with gameplay and the ability of the player to retain and apply said subject matter to the real world.”

Put enrichment and game-based learning together by definition, and you would get “Generally, game based learning is designed to balance subject matter with gameplay and the ability of the player to retain and apply said subject matter to the real world, while improving or enhancing the quality or value of education.” As an 8th grade Earth Science teacher, that sounds pretty sweet.

Importance of Enrichment in All Content Areas

Like the majority of teachers, my enrichment efforts are based on data. Strands of weakness and complex learning concepts take priority as I work to innovate and plan creative units to convey the concepts better. Try teaching radiometric dating and half-life curves to a bunch of 8th graders who were put into a High School Credit science class… That is quite a challenge.

Game-based learning has become the Aleve to my headache in that regard. Students are far more interested in their phones than any piece of paper I hand out. So, I moved towards digital learning.

Using the game-based learning platform Legends of Learning, I created a pre-test playlist on geologic time, added an assessment pack at the end, and downloaded my students’ performance data. After highlighting the weaker strands (subcategories within the topic), I made a new playlist. I taught the concepts per usual, emphasizing the weaknesses shown in the pre-test playlist data, and then launched the playlist again after my normal teaching lessons. (For an example of how to track student performance, check out the Hall of Knowledge here.)

An enrichment playlist covering geologic time.

Much to my surprise, weak strands were no longer categorized as “weak”, moreso, “improving”. Take a look at the Vanderbilt study conducted in partnership with Legends of Learning, and it speaks for itself. Weak strands can become enhanced strands through game-based learning enrichment.

How to Implement Games to Target Weak Strands

Some may think, “All of this is great, but where do I start?” Game-based enrichment isn’t something you just wake up and decide to implement one day.

Instead, consider doing some critical data analysis, at least once, before jumping right in.

The data analysis portion of the Legends of Learning platform allows you to break down each learning objective by student performance.

Teachers can download student data to track progress during enrichment activities.

From this, identify the weak strands. Your definition of “weak” may differ from mine, but usually I emphasize those showing 50% mastery or below. Think about those weak strands in terms of what I call the 3 Vs: Volume, Value, Vocabulary. Let’s break those down:

Volume

On average, how much time do you spend emphasizing a strand? One day? One week? Strands that are only the focus of one day of class may not be as crucial as larger units you spend weeks on. Take out the strands that are “one-dayers”.

Value

Are the skills presented in this weak strand going to affect later learning objectives? Place an educational value on the learning objective. Is the concept crucial or supplementary?

Vocabulary

Is the learning objective heavy on vocab? If so, take a look at the overview and curriculum for each game. Find the key vocabulary needed, pack the playlist, schedule the playlist to run over the weekend as “homework,” and collect data on Monday. You should see improvement.

View curriculum details for each game before using it for enrichment.

The key to game-based enrichment is finding the value in the innovative learning that is taking place. Don’t just plug in games that are fun and engaging. The games need to emphasize weaknesses within the content in order for enrichment to be successful.

What are your experiences with using GBL for enrichment?

Call for Elementary School Ambassadors

Legends of Learning is looking for elementary school ambassadors. Grades 3-5 teachers who are willing to review our science for Life, Earth and Space, and Physical sciences. Ambassadors who sign up by February 12 will get early access to games.

This is your opportunity to shape the Legends of Learning platform and games from the ground floor. When you sign up for our community, let your voice be heard and make a difference not only in your classroom, but for educators across America!

Impact how kids learn through games and join forces with like-minded heroes to review and strengthen the Legends of Learning platform and the individual games. Your input helps improve our collective offering.

Earn Rewards

We reward teachers who are active in our network. Participation in our community garners you access to challenges where you can earn more credits to continue playing. You can also earn some crazy rewards, too. Not that a hero needs more motivation, but those whose exploits are truly legendary will receive t-shirts, Pez heads, or other Legends of Learning swag.

So what are you waiting for, Legend? Sign up today, and help make game based learning even better in our community today!

P.S. Interested teachers who are looking for a little lighter interaction with Legendary peers can join our private Facebook group, The Hall of Legends.

Legends of Learning On Instagram and Pinterest

Many of our ambassadors and friends in the education community have followed Legends of Learning on Facebook and Twitter over the past year, but complained about our lack of presence on Instagram and Pinterest. Well, those days are over!!!

You can now follow us on Instagram and Pinterest, too!

Our Instagram page will feature photo spotlights of our ambassadors, LoL staff, industry events, and case studies, as well as highlighting each of our 90 middle school science learning objectives and updates about our gaming platform.

We will also “regram” legendary posts from our followers, and may even give some teacher ambassadors the opportunity to temporarily take over the page!

On Pinterest, we have boards for Earth and Space Science, Physical Science, Life Science, as well as special topics like NGSS, last month’s total solar eclipse, and awesome inspiration from teachers.

Teachers are some of the best users on Pinterest, “pinning” everything from science labs to art projects to actual bulletin boards. The site provides an easy way to bookmark and spread bright ideas, improving classrooms everywhere.

We are excited to grow our engagement with the education community! The internet is an incredible asset, with the power to not only host resources like Legends of Learning games, but also to share valuable insights and ideas so teachers and students can reap the benefits. Join us in our mission to spread the best of education.

Follow Legends of Learning:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LegendsofLearning/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/legendlearning
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/legendsoflearning/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/legendsoflearning/

More Than 700 Middle School Science Games Now Available!

We are thrilled to launch our game-based learning platform with more than 700 curriculum-based games for middle school earth and space science, life sciences, and physical science curricula. The science games, created by over 300 games developers, are based on rigorous academic research conducted in partnership with Vanderbilt University.

In preparation for the platform launch, Legends of Learning involved more than 500 teacher ambassadors from across the country. Their participation will ultimately build a library of 700 games by the end of spring, with more games in different subjects and grades underway. The games and platform have benefitted from direct feedback by Legends of Learning’s teacher ambassador community, resulting in games ideally suited for the challenges of today’s learning environments.

Teachers communicated directly with and provided recommendations to game developers from such well-known game studios as Schell Games, Filament Games, North South Studios, Second Avenue Learning, and Intellijoy. Legends of Learning will continue to engage with educators about their needs and insights in an effort to keep games fresh and exciting for students.

“I have been teaching science for 14 years and never have I seen a company listen to teachers and incorporate feedback like Legends of Learning has,” said Scott Beiter, a veteran science teacher from Rensselaer, New York, and Legends of Learning teacher ambassador. “It is hard to find a platform that is easy-to-use and integrates into what I am already teaching, but Legends of Learning has created one for middle school science.”

Legends of Learning founder and CEO Vadim Polikov, a research scientist, believes that research is the foundation for successful game-based learning and long-term educational reform. The soon-to-be-released controlled study in partnership with Vanderbilt University, “Substantial Integration of Typical Educational Games into Extended Curricula,” measured the performance of more than 1,000 students in seven states and in schools with differing student bodies, socioeconomic factors, and geographical locations. The study demonstrated statistically significant success, showing that academic performance and engagement increase with curriculum aligned game-based learning.

Some unique aspects of the Legends of Learning game-based learning platform include:

  • Short games (5-15 minutes) that align to middle school science curriculum standards to ensure content engages and helps students succeed in their studies;
  • An intuitive platform similar to Netflix and Amazon that makes games easy and natural to use in classrooms; and
  • A dashboard that allows teachers to observe student comprehension in real time, create game playlists for classes and individual students, and assess content mastery.

“I firmly believe in using original academic research to test the efficacy of new education products while at the same time making sure the classroom implementation is incredibly easy for educators,” said our CEO Vadim Polikov. “Working with a wide range of teachers and game developers has allowed us to build a unique platform that will be easy for educators to integrate and use in their classrooms.”

Teachers interested in being part of the Legends of Learning Ambassador program should visit legendsoflearning.com/teachers. We are showcasing our platform and games at booth #2217 at the National Science Teachers Association’s National Conference in Los Angeles, March 30-April 2.

A version of this story was issued as a press release on PRWeb this morning. Interested parties can see the games on the Legends of Learning platform.

News: Readying Launch of Several Hundred Middle School Science Games

This is a copy of a news release issued today.

Legends of Learning getting ready to launch our online platform of several hundred curriculum-based science games for middle school earth and space science, life sciences, and physical science curricula later this month. The company was founded after the results from a forthcoming research study, “Substantial Integration of Typical Educational Games into Extended Curricula,” from Vanderbilt University revealed that short, simple education games aligned to curriculum standards improve student engagement and academic performance.

 

Founded by former research scientist Vadim Polikov, Legends of Learning stands for the principle that rigorous academic research needs to form the foundation of strategies that take blended learning techniques such as game-based learning to the next level. The wide-ranging study — more than 1,000 students in seven states and in schools with differing student bodies, socioeconomic factors and geographical locations — demonstrated statistically significant success.

One year later, Legends of Learning’s content platform and games are being tested and vetted by hundreds of teachers across the country in preparation for the official launch later this month. The company will demonstrate its platform and games at the National Science Teachers Association’s National Conference in Los Angeles, March 30-April 2, 2017.

More than 100 middle schools will use Legends of Learning in their classrooms when it launches. Scores of teachers using the platform will participate in a second study to demonstrate efficacy and best practices for blended learning with curricula endgames. The second study will be conducted by researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Vanderbilt University.

“Original research is critical to our education system’s overall success,” said Vadim Polikov. “I firmly believe that proving — or disproving — hypotheses with strong rigorous research is the best way to move education forward. One of the most crucial aspects for the education sector to adapt new methods is efficacy. Educators’ time is at a premium now, so providing them with something that is demonstrably effective and easy to use has a far greater chance of being implemented.”

Some unique aspects of Legends of Learning’s approach to education include:

  • Building games off existing middle school science curriculum standards to ensure content not only engages students but also helps them succeed in their studies;
  • Using an intuitive platform similar to Netflix and Amazon to make it easy and natural for teachers to use the games in their classrooms; and
  • Releasing a dashboard that allows teachers to observe student comprehension in real time.

Teachers interested in being part of the Legends of Learning Ambassador program can visit legendsoflearning.com/teachers. Legends of Learning will take 100 teacher ambassadors to the ISTE 2017 Conference & Expo in San Antonio, June 25-28. For more information about Legends of Learning visit legendsoflearning.com.

Our First Demo Science Games Are Up

We’ve got great news, Legend! Our first set of curriculum-based science games is now available for demo. If you want to try the games for yourself, create an account today.

demogames

The sample games have been built out for the following learning objectives:

Remember, this is just the beginning. In March, we roll out hundreds of games for 90 lessons across Earth and Space, Life, and Physical Sciences. After completing the science games, Legends of Learning will expand into other subjects and grades.

Even if you are not a science teacher, you might want to refer colleagues, right?

So what are you waiting for? Spread the word, and become a Legend of Learning!

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