“Trigger Words” for Gamer Distraction

“Legionary: a professional soldier in the Roman Army.” Those were the words that appeared on my whiteboard above a picture of a Roman soldier wielding the iconic Gladius and Scutum. Before the lesson could begin, one student pulled an inquisitive face and asked: “isn’t that what the bad guys are called in Destiny?”.

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​School Trips to Game Worlds: Who fancies a Sci-Fi Croissant?

After finishing my first playthrough of Assassin’s Creed 2, I was left with a singular thought etched into my mindset. It was not the idea of being an assassin – what it would be like to run across roof troops and leap from inexplicable heights into bails of straw. No, I was left with a strong desire to visit Venice. Whilst playing through the latter stages of the game, I found myself wondering whether the city really is a gorgeous as the game suggests, and just how much Venice has changed since the 16th Century.

Last week, I gave my proposal for a school trip to the fictional city of Rapture. The submerged scenery of the Bioshock games may be aesthetically pleasing, but the true worth of the city is in its educational possibilities. When the city was in its prime, Rapture would have opened the eyes and minds of any student able to visit. I also asked you to consider the following question:

If you could organise/embark on a school trip to a video game location, where would you go?

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School Trips to Game Worlds: Where would you go?

Two weeks ago I was on a school trip in Berlin. Each time I go on this trip (this was the fifth time) a student looks up at the Reichstag building, turns to me and demands to know if that was the building ‘they’ assaulted at the end of Call of Duty: World at War. Every trip, without fail, and it always makes me chuckle.

Berlin 29 Mar - 1 Apr 20050064c

Returning to my blog after a two week hiatus, I find myself mulling over an odd question (which formed somewhere between leaving the amazing city of Berlin and challenging my students to Mario Kart on the coach ride home) that I wish pose to anyone who has ever been a student or teacher:

If you could organise/embark on a school trip to a video game location, where would you go?

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​More Reasons to be a Gamer-Teacher

A student once asked me if Richard the Lionheart was ginger (we’d just finished a lesson on the Crusades). I stated that, yes, records show that King Richard I had red hair. The student gleefully announced that he had seen Richard in the city of Arsuf when playing Assassin’s Creed. Once again, a video game has provided a visual queue for a student’s studies. AC1_Altair_RichardOur hobbies and our professions are usually kept far apart. This is usually deliberate; a hobby allows you to take your mind off the work waiting for you. In other instances the career and the pastime are so different that they rarely cross paths. I usually put aside my enjoyment of video games when teaching… but every so often the two benefit each other. Continue reading “​More Reasons to be a Gamer-Teacher”

The Execution of Yoshi Cromwell

The stage is set. Mario’s desire for a male child is an ever-growing concern. His first wife, Pauline, has failed to produce the heir he craves. Age and stress have taken a toll on her body. Mario wants a new, younger wife that will secure his succession, and the vibrant Princess Peach has presented herself as an appealing alternative. A major barrier stands between Mario and his new wife: Bowser refuses to allow Mario and Peach to marry. How will Mario solve his Great Matter?

Last week I introduced a revision lesson that I use with Sixth Form students studying the reign of Henry VIII. The lesson uses the Mario games as an analogy for Henry VIII and the impact his actions had on the English Church. It’s a great lesson for everyone involved and the students recall a huge amount of information through the activity.

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Mario and Henry VIII

I try to be very careful when mixing gaming with education. These are two of my major interests but not every student will appreciate gaming references punctuating every lesson. Nevertheless, a comparison between video game and subject matter is sometimes too tempting to pass up. In the case of the infamous King Henry VIII, there is a clear and definable connection with the affable Super Mario.

I’ll admit, the two characters are quite different at first glance. Whilst the two men are portly in stature, one is a high-jumping plumber and visitor of a magical kingdom, whilst the other rules over a much more traditional kingdom, occupying his time with women and wars with France. If you dig a little deeper though, you’ll soon realise that these two people have a lot in common. Those similarities make for a great lesson.

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Video Game Music in the Classroom

During a school day other teachers wander into my room as I teach. Occasionally they will remark on how wonderful it is to hear classical music emanating from a classroom, and how pleasant it is to see students appreciating quality music as they complete their work. As they leave, the students share a collective smirk; that teacher doesn’t know that Sir is playing the Halo soundtrack.

I’m not the first person to see the benefit of using video game music whilst studying. Video game music is designed to be in the background. It is intended to be entertaining without becoming distracting. Whether you are trying to improve your concentration or make a laborious task more interesting, music from games offers a wonderful solution.

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The Advantages of being a Gamer-Teacher

Teaching is a profession which can blend into your personal time. In my life, video gaming has become something that is scheduled; pencilled in amongst lesson plans and marking. I’ve not given up on gaming though. Not only because I enjoy it, but because gaming has actually been a benefit to my career. This is why I think being a gamer can have a very positive impact on any teacher:

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Side Note: a handy use for FIFA

A reference to FIFA is a great way of teaching students about the word ‘morale’. This is a word that especially pops up during History lessons. Ask students to describe what makes morale increase or decrease. The answers are all helpful. What ‘morale’ is: what types of things affect morale; how important morale is to a person or an event.

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If nothing else, it’s further proof that young people are smarter than they realise.

Minecraft & The Roman Empire

I am a history teacher, and I have used Minecraft to teach my students.

When you want to help someone learn, at any age, you start small. You begin with a simple concept, and then you build on it. The better that starting point, the easier it is to add more information. It also helps if that starting point is interesting and relevant to your audience. I’m not the first teacher to realise that Minecraft fits the bill as a starting point for learning. Nevertheless, I’d like to share my experiences with Minecraft as a teaching device.

Education warning: This post contains small amounts of learning.

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