"We Could All Use a Level Up."
|Seated left is Sue Considine, Executive Director of the Fayetteville|
Free Library and fellow 2013 Library Journal Mover & Shaker.
Mario Brothers nearly every time I visited the library with our class. The language of my childhood friendships included unrelenting talk of end-game bosses, secret warps, and unlocking extra lives via the Konami code. Not surprisingly, today we rarely go a week in our elementary school library without one of my students requesting video game-related books or content. But while games may have once been perceived as a distraction or viewed strictly for their entertainment value, I believe video games play a unique role in today's 21st century classroom. It is for this that I am honored to be recognized as a White House Creating Lifelong Learners Champion of Change.
My work as a teacher librarian in an elementary school over the past six years has afforded me a number of opportunities to rethink the way we approach learning and in what ways we provide authentic learning opportunities for our students. Students today have access to information in ways unprecedented to the likes of those even a decade prior. It is the role of the teacher librarian to not only create lifelong learners, but also effective users of information and technology.
Not ironically, many of today's students are already adept at using technology. It is our charge to model how said technology can be used to access and use information through an inquiry-based process. To be fluent in these technology tools is to speak the language of the 21st century learner.
Video games have been a part of mainstream culture throughout the entire lives of today's learners. This realization informed many of the steps I have taken to integrate gaming into my library program and instructional practices.
|Panelists were nominated by the Institute of Museum and|
Library Services (IMLS) before being selected by the White House staff.
In 2011 I began developing math lessons incorporating the Nintendo Wii gaming console as an instructional tool. Shortly thereafter I partnered with Meg Hearn, a Math Support Teacher at a neighboring school, to write a book for the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) entitled Teaching Math with the Wii (to be published October 2013 through ISTE). Our work centers around the understanding that kids are well-versed in the language of video games. They log countless hours on consoles, working endlessly to level up, achieve high scores, and master new skills. By using the Wii in the math classroom, the students have access to a tool of which many are already fluent. Students are engaged and make meaningful connections to the math curriculum while exploring math concepts through a context that is inherently relevant to the students' interests. This might include exploring the concept of prime and composite numbers in the context of an iceberg balancing game on Wii Fit Plus or demonstrating a mastery of geometric shapes by identifying lines and line segments created during a speed slice challenge on Wii Sports Resort.
Not long after, a Twitter colleague and I founded the Level Up Book Club, an online gaming and game-based learning book club for education professionals. Jennifer LaGarde, a teacher librarian in North Carolina, and I shared a common interest in gamification, the practice of applying game thinking and mechanics to ordinary tasks in order to motivate, engage, and, otherwise, increase productivity. Level Up Book Club members participated in weekly challenges, fought to earn top ranks on the leader board, and journeyed on epic quests of professional growth.
|The twelve "Creating Lifelong Learners" champions joining |
Susan Hildreth, director of IMLS (far left).