#diffimooc Week 4: Parents and Gaming/Gamification

Click on the link below to get to my hangman game:

http://shar.es/1oddbT

In this day and age, I think parents expect teachers to differentiate. I don’t know if they all understand and know that what they expect is called “differentiation”. However, parents expect teachers to meet every need of their lovely child, or at least that’s how it feels. They often ask teachers, how are you challenging my child? Or how are you making sure my child doesn’t fall behind? As an educator I always tried to communicate with the parents of my students the concepts we were working on in class and the types of activities we were doing. I would do this through newsletters, conferences, and open houses. The article Lee shared with us about inviting parents in to the classroom is another great way to educate/communicate what is going on in the classroom.

However, preparing parents for gaming/gamification, that’s a different story. I don’t have experience with gaming/gamification in my classroom, but I could see parents having an issue with it. I could see parents not understanding the importance or value in using gaming/gamification. Of course there are parents that are probably all for it, parents who have seen it used in classrooms already, or read about it and thought if only my teachers had used gaming/gamification to motivate me when I was in school. Michelle Alvarez is a Middle School teacher who blogs about using gamification in her class. She posted a reflection about her experiences titled Maximizing your Gamification Presentation to Parents and Administration. Alvarez writes (2013), “Don’t try to educate them all at once. Just as you likely took your time learning about this approach, give them information a little at a time – scaffold it just as you would any other lesson. I made the mistake of moving too fast and, although they were all very excited and enthusiastic, there was a lot of confusion and misunderstanding in the beginning.” She also shares how she invited parents in to see gamification in action and to allow parents to observe how their child interacted. As stated by Schaaf (2015), “Your gamified lesson needs buy-in across the board. When you introduce gamified instruction, make it an event. Write a blog post, send newsletters, run an ad campaign on the whiteboard — but most of all, send clear communication home about the learning goals for the lesson and how you will be helping all students to meet those goals.”

I think parents want to know their child is learning to their potential and being educationally challenged in a safe environment and if using gaming/gamification can help their students do this, parents will understand it’s importance.

References:

Alvarez, M. (2013, May 7). Maximizing your gamification presentation to parents and administration. [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://gamifyingmyclass.com/2013/05/07/139/

Boyle, J. (2013, December 29). Gaming education: Are parents, teachers, and schools ready to embrace gaming as a learning tool? Retrieved from http://www.emergingedtech.com/2013/12/gaming-education-are-parents-teachers-and-schools-ready-to-embrace-gaming-as-a-learning-tool/

Schaaf, R. (2015, January 21). 4 best practices in implementing game-based learning. [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://www.infosavvy21.com/blog/2015/1/21/4-best-practices-in-implementing-game-based-learning

Tomlinson, C. A. (2012). How to differentiate instruction in mixed-ability classrooms. ASCD.

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4 thoughts on “#diffimooc Week 4: Parents and Gaming/Gamification

  1. I am like you in that I have not used gaming with my classes. You touched on a topic that caught my attention this week as I read through several articles. That is, letting parents see gamification in action by inviting them into your classroom. Jon brought up a similar idea in his blog this week. I shared an idea when I commented on his blog that perhaps a good way to introduce parents to gaming is to include small activities in a gaming unit that require parent participation. This would require the students to teach their parents how to maneuver through the game. Students become teachers and parents get to see first hand the connection between the activity and the curriculum.

  2. I think you are right when you stated, “In this day and age, I think parents expect teachers to differentiate. I don’t know if they all understand and know that what they expect is called ‘differentiation’.” But how do we get them to see that gaming can be a way to “meet every need of their lovely child”? I agree with Scott, perhaps having parents participate in a gaming unit will sway them. It sure swayed me by playing Minecraft. I never understood how my kids could spend so much time on the game and have to be pried away (I’m not done building Mom!). And then spend even more countless hours WATCHING others play Minecraft. Ugh! Turns out they weren’t just watching, they were studying the game and learning how to do more cool stuff. Something I am completely grateful now as I shout out ‘How do I write in a book?’ and the answers come streaming out of their mouths without a thought. Nothing like experiencing something first hand to truly understand it.

  3. I enjoyed looking through Michelle Alvarez’s blog page. This is a wonderful way to keep those communication channels open with the parents and the kids. At middle school kids will get onto the blog as well and give their input. By keeping it up to date the parents will feel better about what is going on in the classroom because they will have current information they can look at.

  4. Wow — the quote you shared from Michelle Alvarez’s blog is so basic, yet so profound! I think whenever educators talk with parents, we feel as though we need to give them ALL the information, all at once, so they can be “fully informed.” So often, this ends up overwhelming and confusing parents … and when the topic is something really new to them (and fairly new to the teacher, if she is new at integrating games/gamification into the classroom), it could create problems — especially if the teacher doesn’t have examples and evidence of how games work and why they work (including evidence to show they do!) in the classroom. Taking it slow and educating parents gradually is such a smart approach!

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