Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

Level Up for College and Career Readiness Esports Clubs

Lindsay Williams, Mandy Green, Matthew McDonald | Published: July 30th, 2021 by K20 Center


The Level Up for esports Professional Development Session will introduce the concept of esports clubs. Participants will explore resources and information on how esports clubs can promote college and career readiness, address potential challenges, and discover potential social/emotional benefits for their students. Participants will also have the opportunity to connect academics and their content area to an exciting new career area.

Essential Questions

  • How can a Level Up esports club promote a college- and career-going culture in your school?

Learning Goals

  • Describe the basic history and cultural significance of esports (professional gaming).

  • Connect participation in esports to college and career readiness. 

  • Utilize knowledge of esports to increase academic engagement. 

  • Recognize challenges and obstacles and be prepared to address common issues. 

Materials List

  • Pens, pencils

  • Computers (if conducting virtually)

  • Presentation Slides (attached)

  • Jamboard Template (attached and linked)

  • 3-2-1 Handout (attached and linked; one per participant)

  • Infographic Handout (attached and linked)


15 Minute(s)

After introductions, pull up slide 3 and read to participants the essential question: “How can Level Up esports promote a college- and career-going culture in your school?”

Go to slide 4. Have participants respond to the questions on the slide in the chat (or aloud if facilitating face-to-face).

Once the participants have had a chance to respond, transition to slide 5 and share with participants the statistics about who plays games and who considers themself a “gamer.” Emphasize that the data shows far more than young men play games, but many, especially women, do not consider themselves “gamers.”

Move to slide 6. Use the Stoplight strategy to break participants up into groups based on their knowledge of esports clubs and how they can promote a college- and career-going culture. Participants should self-select either red (“I know almost nothing about esports”), yellow (“I know a little about esports and could describe it”), or green (“I’m familiar enough with esports that I can explain how it supports college and career readiness”).

We will return to these groups shortly. For now, continue to slide 7 and play the video clip “Esports in Education: Expanding Student Opportunities,” which showcases one school’s experiences in instituting an esports club at their school.

Finally, on slide 8, show participants the objectives for the rest of the learning experience.


10 Minute(s)

On slide 9, have participants view the Esports Infographic Handout while participating in the Why-Lighting strategy. Provide the participants with the link to the Infographic or the printed version and tell them, as they read, to make notes on any information that was surprising or new to you, especially information that answers the following questions:

  • What is esports? 

  • Where did it come from?

  • Who/what careers are involved?

  • How can it help students?

Give participants 7-10 minutes to complete this activity, then go to slide 10.


20 Minute(s)

In the next activity, use the results of the Stoplight strategy groupings to create evenly mixed groups of each color. For example, with a total of two participants of each color, there will be two groups, each with one red, one yellow, and one green respondent.

Inform participants they will now use what they highlighted in the previous activity to fill in your created Jamboard. In groups determined by the responses to the Stoplight strategy, participant groups should each contribute to a different topic (i.e. social development, pathways to college, etc.) on the Jamboard. Each group should add sticky notes with benefits, challenges, and some potential troubleshooting of those challenges to their assigned page. Give groups five to seven minutes to add their sticky notes.

Once each group has completed their Jamboard responses, go to slide 11 and read the instructions. Display the Jamboard for all participants and have each group share out their responses.


10 Minute(s)

Invite participants to extend their thinking beyond the benefits of Level Up esports and examine how it can connect to classroom content.

Introduce the 3-2-1 strategy to participants. Display slide 12. If facilitating in person, distribute the attached 3-2-1 handout to each participant. If facilitating virtually, distribute the following link for each participant to create their own digital copy: 3-2-1 copy. Have participants answer all three questions on the handout:

  • What are three (3) things that are important to know in your content area?

  • What are two (2) things you see in esports that might support what you listed above?

  • What is one (1) way you can support this in your content?

Once participants have had a chance to respond, ask a few volunteers to share out their responses with the whole group.


5 Minute(s)

Finally, go to slide 13.

To wrap up the presentation, ask participants to respond to the question, “What is one aspect of esports that you think will benefit this student/students the most?” This question is intended for participants to connect what they’ve learned to the direct benefit of a student or students they know.

Ask a few volunteers to share their answers (without naming students!).

If in a virtual setting, have participants share aloud or put their answers into the chat.

Research Rationale

Research has found that esports activities create learning opportunities during play for critical analysis, communication, research skills, and social-emotional learning. In particular, esports has also been found to increase “soft skills.'' Soft skills are defined as intra- and interpersonal skills essential for human development, social participation, and success in the workplace. School superintendent Al Mijares from Orange County, California, stated: “It's an incredible opportunity to build on existing interests while introducing them to 21st-century skills and careers” (Rothwell & Shaffer, 2019). In Orange County, high schools have developed an esports league and incorporated curriculum based on the game League of Legends. The esports league carefully incorporates Career Technical Education (CTE), STEM, English language arts, and social and emotional learning into the curriculum.