This post first appeared on Edutopia.
Game designers understand how to make games memorable and “sticky” in the sense that, even when you aren’t playing the game, you’re still thinking about solving its problems and puzzles. As teachers, how might we make our projects and content as sticky as games? How can we engage kids in thoughtful learning even after they leave the classroom? Here are game designers’ top five secrets and some tips on using these same game dynamics to make learning in your classroom as addictive as gaming.
1. The Story Dynamic: Wrap Them Up in the Story
Some of the best games have engrossing stories full of memorable characters and following time-honored patterns from mythology and narrative fiction. Gamers play games such as The Last of Us and the Bioshock Trilogy because they see themselves in the role of the hero, undertaking a journey.
In any project-based curriculum, the story is the process. The product is the ending. Who’d want to see the just the last ten minutes of a movie? Or read just the final chapter of a book? When it comes to games, books, and movies, we’re usually much more interested in how the characters got there than where they end up.
Rather than assessing the final product, find more ways to grade the process. Ask kids to keep a journal of their personal reflections as they work on a project. Ask them to write about their learning process:
- What was surprising?
- What was challenging?
- Where did they get stuck?
- How did they get unstuck?
- Who helped them?
- Whom did they help?
All of these details can be recalled later when they turn in their final project. Challenge kids to tell you the story of the process, citing their own journal entries as the primary source material.