Give me a week to rejuvenate and well, I start thinking about things …

Last year as a faculty we suggested books to read for summer reading, formed groups, and came back together to discuss our books at the beginning of the school year. I have already decided that I want to recommend “Reality is Broken,” by Jane McGonigal (see her TED Talk, below).  Having just come back from EdCamp Social Studies, and seen the power of a group of people who just want to come together and discuss similar interests – find a space and make it happen, I’ve decided that I want to propose a Game Think Tank for the summer.

So my husband (the game designer) and I got together and brainstormed some ideas.  We can hold about 20-25 people in our home.  I’m going to propose the book for summer reading, letting the prospective group members that along with discussing the book, participants will have the chance to:

  1. See what a real live, gamer’s house looks like (including the 10,000 painted miniatures that are arranged in old library card catalogs in our basement).
  2. Participate in a role-playing, resource-management, collaboration-type game that will involve learning and combine math, history, science and/or a variety of “curricular mashups” to see what it’s like to use game mechanics to build a lesson that is motivational and meets instructional objectives.
  3. Eat lots of great food (my husband and I are fantastic cooks, and my “Victory Garden” will be in full swing by then).
  4. Discuss both the book, and the possibilities for using the motivational structures of games in the classroom (and out of the classroom – who says learning has to happen in the classroom)?
  5. Include some experienced gamers in the day for both the gaming and the discussion/brainstorming session.
  6. More surprises to be arranged …

I’m calling this “EduGameCon.”  I can see it happening again – thanks to EdCamp, I now feel it is “doable,” and I feel empowered to do so.  I’m hoping that what comes out of this is a lot of great thinking about using games in education, most importantly the “game mechanics” aspect — which is so much like good lesson planning and design.  I also hope to dispel some negative stereotypes about games in education:

(Some feel that) Gaming in Education means:

  • … individual students sitting in front of monitors interacting with a video game and cut off from everyone else.
  • … a break for the teachers – plug and play the students in and let the program do the teaching.
  • … trivializing content.
  • … glorifying violence.
  • … “un-assessable” – can’t measure how students are doing or what they’re learning.
  • … encouraging unhealthy competition.

I think really good game design is the opposite of these.   I like what Jane McGonigal says about games being intrinsically rewarding because they are structured to meet our craving for: “satisfying work, meaning, social interaction, and hope of success.”

So, the idea is born.  It’s Spring – let’s see what grows …

Gaming Can Make A Better World



About Paula Montrie

I am a Middle School Librarian at Friends School of Baltimore. I have been a librarian for 11 years, serving 6 years with the Howard County Public School System before arriving at my current school. I teach two classes: SpeechCraft (a combination of information literacy, public speaking and theater), and Media Literacy at the middle school level. I also collaboratively co-teach with a number of teachers at the school, including Music, Geography, and U.S. History. I love it! My professional interests are: information literacy, multiple intelligences and learning styles, teaching through movement, curriculum-writing, technology integration, and bridging the gap between digital natives and digital immigrants. My personal interests are: dancing, singing, knitting, sewing, art, living history, writing and of course - reading!
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6 Responses to EduGameCon

  1. Great post, Paula. I love this idea, and I love that you got inspired by EdCampSS this weekend.

  2. lpilker says:

    ooh, ooh! Can I come! I’m a proponent of educational gaming, and live in Maryland. I would love to design alternate reality games for the classroom.

    • Paula Montrie says:

      Hi, lpilker! Thanks for your enthusiasm! I’ll keep you posted – we’ll see what kind of response I get to the idea – it’s something I would eventually like to open up to the wider community. At the very least we should definitely share some resources! I’d love to hear what you are doing with game design in the classroom.

  3. JeffP says:

    If it happens and you need people I think we’re in. If only for your DHs yummy food. 🙂

  4. lfowler202 says:

    What a great idea. I hope you do this. Keep me posted.

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