Lesson Plans for Using Games in the Classroom

Games don’t need to be labeled or packaged as “educational” in order to be valuable for classroom use. Learning scientists like Kurt Squire and James Paul Gee have talked about the power of using games to deliver an experience that can serve as a springboard for class discussions or to promote preparation for future learning.

Here are some online resources for using commercial off the shelf (COTS) games — which might not be explicitly labeled “educational” — for learning in the classroom:

  • Teach with Portals – Lesson plans for how to use the extremely popular 3D puzzle game Portal (by Valve) to teach physics concepts.
  • Minecraft Edu – Educator resources for using Microsoft’s Minecraft game.
  • Hey Listen Games– NYC history teacher Zachary Hartzman’s webpage filled with lesson plans on how to use various popular games to teach the consequences of choices, empathy, creativity and critical thinking.

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I teach game design and educational technology courses at Teachers College, Columbia University in New York City. You can reach me at GAMES at tc dot columbia dot edu.