Articulating Learning 2: Extending the learning

After giving kudos to the children who were so clearly articulating the learning in the game ‘Bloon tower defense 3’, this has in some ways come back to haunt me this week.

After discussing with the whole class the learning they had identified, and putting their video on the class blog I ended up with a class in which all of the boys were choosing to play this game in their independent time. When asked what they were learning they were able to reply ‘how to handle my money’. However, I felt that for many of them this was a learned response that would allow them to ‘get away with’ playing on the game without deeply considering the learning.

I have to admit, this made me wonder if I should backpedal a bit… worrying I had given them permission to play on a game with little intellectual challenge going on. I considered ways to proceed, and though perhaps I should try to harness their interest in the game to make it a ‘contextual hub’ for other learning activities, as has been done to great effect by Dawn Hallybone and Tom Barrett.

I prepared some ideas, such as asking them to review the game or write some instructions for following particular strategies. I then brought this to a discussion with them, where I put across the idea that some things only have a good learning value for a certain amount of time.

When asked for ideas on how they could extend the learning they were getting from the game one child came up with an excellent idea. He suggested they could define two different strategies, and then use two computers to test side by side which one was most effective. They could then devise the most effective strategy through a process of elimination.

I am putting my ‘extending activities’ to one side for now, it seems that they can think up much more interesting ideas just using the game.


2 responses to “Articulating Learning 2: Extending the learning”

  1. ana tetley Avatar
    ana tetley

    Oliver, great post! I teach grade 5 in a PYP school Games are a big focus at our grade right now – we will soon have a math open day when parents come in to watch the kids engage in learning through play, and they have been using online games I selected as anchor activities when they finish the assigned work.
    I totally agree with you that the learning value of some games goes down with time (some in quite a lot shorter time span than others). One way that has seen one particularly (and potentially boring) fraction track game gain a new lease of life was to ask the kids to pair up to devise different ways of playing that game, going beyond different strategies. Changing the game with their agreed rules, then playing a number of variations, to decide which one(s) worked best for what reason meant that the game fulfilled its initial function and then extended their learning in surprising ways. the kids really became engrossed in thought and took some risks sharing their game adaptation, some quite daring. It was also a great leveler in that the typically lower attaining kids in maths excelled whereas the smarty pants who would try and show off finally made some mistakes and could see how these helped them learn too. What a way to extend the learning through games — it was unexpected to me!

    Best wishes,

    Ana Tetley

  2. Julia Skinner Avatar

    Another great read Oliver. I’m not sure if this is too old for your lot but you might be interested in this. I reviewed it a while back. You need to look & see if it is suitable but it may link with this work.

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