Paul Blankenship is using technology to meet his students where they are, employing a game-based system for classroom management and for teaching social studies at Carver Magnet School.
Blankenship uses video games to engage his students in learning about geography, historical facts and related subjects. One game, “Boss Battle,” allows students to work together to take down a villain by answering questions. Answering questions right allows the students to do damage to the boss, while incorrect answers results in damage to the students’ player characters. Blankenship extends the video game concepts of rewards-based activity to managing his classroom, providing awards for positive behavior and consequences for negative behavior.
Blankenship said that presenting material and running his classroom in a video game-based context makes education more appealing and relatable to students. In addition to the “Boss Battle” game, Blankenship also uses a version of “Minecraft” to teach students about maps and geography.
“It works for behavior,” he said. “As they level up, they get additional privileges, like actions points that allow them to ask if an answer to a test question is right or wrong.”
Blankenship said he got many of his ideas from “Reality is Broken,” a book by Jane McGonigal about how concepts found in video games can be adapted to work and other environments for more effective results.
Isaac Price, a seventh-grader, said he looks forward to coming to Blankenship’s class.
“You like it more and the lessons stick with you more because you like it,” he said.
Jayvia Carter, also a seventh-grader, said,” I like how we use the games. We’re more interested in it than having to study over something on a piece of paper.”