Implementing Game-based Curriculum in the Classroom

Filament Learning provides game-based curriculum that actively engages both students and teachers. Each lesson, built around game-play, allows students to explore key science ideas through activities, discussions, labs, worksheets, and, of course, games. Rather than reading extensive instruction, active engagement motivates students to think like scientists and investigate the processes underlying scientific principles for themselves. Think of Filament’s curriculum as an in-class field trip that encourages students to explore, question, experiment, discover, and share their findings.

Some teachers may choose to buy Filament’s games separately from the accompanying curriculum. However, whether you are using Filament’s full game-based curriculum or simply the game itself, keeping in mind a few key ideas about pairing games and curriculum can help maximize the benefits of Filament’s games in the classroom.

BEFORE GAME PLAY

Warm Up

Before game play, always encourage class discussion of the key concepts that students will encounter in the game. Students will have a chance to show what they know, which will give you a chance, as a teacher, to benchmark their understanding. In addition, you can tease out any misunderstandings about the science concepts within the game, while encouraging students to think through the game's scientific principles. In addition, science-based activities can help facilitate discussion and add depth to student understanding.

Pre-game Activities

Students learn best when actively engaged. Therefore, students benefit when they can explore science concepts through hands-on activities that provide an optimal vehicle for helping them understand the main ideas they will encounter in the game. While background reading will provide basic information, activities spark student interest and prepare them for the first-person participatory nature of Filament’s games. In other words, rather than being passive recipients, students will actively engage.

DURING GAME PLAY

Exploration

Let students explore the different aspects of the game. Students will learn through their mistakes, and will become confident players if they are given room to experiment with different scenarios for playing. Sometimes, playing with a partner will help students work through the game more effectively. Remind students that experimenting within the game is just as important as winning the game.

Pause and Think

Most of Filament's games can be paused, so while students play, focus student thinking on particular science concepts by asking specific content-related questions. Remind students that the games are all built on real-life science, and that the game-play allows them to think and act like scientists. Each time students play, they will unlock additional aspects of the game, which gives them a chance to thoroughly explore specific science ideas within the game. Finally, have students keep a journal of their observations while they play.

AFTER GAME PLAY

Labs, Activities and Hands-on Games

Students will likely be excited by their game experience and eager to explore the ideas they have encountered in further detail. This provides a prime opportunity to extend science ideas and processes with hands-on activities—such as labs and in-class games—that further deepen student understanding. The questions from Pause and Think can be additionally fleshed out with writing activities that require students to process what they have learned both critically and creatively. For instance, students can write a story from a perspective of a character within the game, thereby extending the game narrative while also incorporating key scientific ideas from the game.

Exit Slip

In addition to activities, students will want to talk about the game they have played. So, encourage a structured discussion that allows students to share their individual experiences. Ask students questions about what worked, what didn’t, what they learned, and what they would like to accomplish the next time they play the game. Discussion gives students a chance to learn from each other and show what they know. Further focus this discussion by having students share their game-play journals. Or, during discussion, students can fill out a worksheet that helps solidify their thought processes.

REPEATED PLAY

After students finish the Exit Slip, prepare them for playing the game again with a new Warm-Up. With each new play session, guide instruction by having students focus on different concepts and challenges. As students master the game, their increasing confidence and understanding of key concepts can be complemented with more challenging extension exercises. Rather than learning a wide variety of life-science ideas, Filament's curriculum stresses thorough and deep exploration that allows students to attain mastery of key ideas.