Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

Up Your Game: Learning Through Gaming

Lindsay Hawkins, Scott Wilson, Lindsay Williams | Published: September 16th, 2020 by K20 Center


Meeting students where they are can seem like a daunting task, particularly when it comes to the ever-changing world of technology. However, using intentionally designed games can make learning fun, provide opportunities for critical thinking, and enhance knowledge related to mindset. Participants will have an opportunity to discuss translating practices to suit their program and walk away with resources that will help students get excited to learn through digital games.

Essential Question

In what ways could game-based learning impact student factors like motivation, engagement, and the learning environment?

Learning Goals

  • Participants will associate meaningful learning with past learning experiences.

  • Participants will understand the pedagogical supports facilitated by games (Engagement, Motivation, etc.).

  • Provided with a specific game, participants will identify the learning associated with the game experience.

  • Participants will explore/explain how to integrate games within a classroom learning experience.







Materials List

  • Slides (attached)

  • Agenda (attached)

  • Instructional Strategy Note Sheet (attached)

  • Comic Strips (attached)

  • Devices with Internet capability (personal devices are acceptable for this session)

  • Classroom Scenarios/

    I Think, We Think/Research handout (attached)

  • Breakfast Club Character: Bookmark Cards (printed on a variety of colored card stock, cut and sorted into sets by colors) (attached)

  • Breakfast Club Character: whole sheet (printed and left whole on a variety of colored card stock to match the bookmark strips) (attached)

  • 3-2-1 Handout (attached)


On the top right side of the screen, click on "Configure," "General," and then "Presenter Pace." Also, to retrieve links to share results to the participants click on "Export and Share."

Display slide 1 as participants arrive to the session. Using the DGBL Table Tents, participants sit according to the game they played prior to the session.

Change to slide 2. Welcome participants, and briefly introduce yourself and the professional development session.

Change to slide 3. Go over the session agenda, overarching objectives, and highlight the Instructional Strategy Note Sheet as a place to take notes on each strategy modeled during the session.

Use slide 4 as a transition into the first activity for Meaningful Learning. Change to slide 5 and ask participant to reflect on a meaningful learning childhood learning experience. Use the guiding questions on the PowerPoint to encourage participants to remember specific examples. Click the slide, and detail how participants will use the three frame comic strips on the table to illustrate this meaningful childhood learning experience. Provide time for them to draw and a few may share out their learning experience. Pose the question "Was this your typical learning experience or environment?"

Change to slide 6, and share that this strategy, Cognitive Comics and the others modeled today can be located on the K20 LEARN Site. The interactive site is free and houses Lessons, Strategies, and Activities that are available for viewing and downloading.


Transition to slide 7 and highlight that the next activity will focus on Connecting Motivation and Learning.

Change to slide 8 and introduce the next strategy, I Used To Think, But Now I Know. Briefly highlight that this slide demonstrates the option to download and modify powerpoint slides for each instructional strategy. This is an excellent feature because each time a strategy is implemented there might be slight variations and this is an easy way to transfer those instructions and expectations to students or participants.

Transition to slide 9, requesting participants take the next two minutes to navigate to and use the code generated by Mentimeter to join and then answer the first question presented.

After two minutes, show the word cloud generated by Mentimeter. Participants may make notes about the ideas that they notice.

After two minutes, change to slide 10. Begin highlighting the research provided on slides 10 through 22.

Change to slide 23 after the research has been highlighted and Game-Based Learning has been connected to Motivation, Engagement, and Learning Environment. Request participants to once again visit and enter the same code to access the second question on Mentimeter.

After two minutes, show the ideas generated on Mentimeter, and allow time for table talk or whole group discussion regarding the difference between what participants used to think, and what they now understand because of the research shared in this seession.

Change to slide 24 and highlight the K20 LEARN Site again detailing that some strategies have videos demonstrating how the strategy has been used with students successfully in a classroom. Show the video if there is time in the presentation.


Transition to slide 25, highlighting that the next activity will focus on The Student & Learning. The student and their learning are deeply affected by motivation, engagement, and the learning environment. We are going to explore and explain this further in our next activity.

Change to slide 26 and highlight the I Think, We Think instructional strategy. Briefly share the expected task before participants begin moving. This slide can stay on the screen until groups have found their Character tables, using the Breakfast Club Character Table Tents to determine their new table. Then change to slide 27. This slide clearly provides the remaining steps and the two questions participants should consider when writing their individual and group statements.

  • Select one Breakfast Club Character Bookmark cards.

  • Taking your bookmark, move to your Character's table (look for the Character Table Tents)

  • Read the scenarios

  • Individually write an ‘I Think’ statement answering the following questions: "What qualities within this environment promote motivation and engagement for this student?" and "What adjustments could be made to promote this student’s motivation and engagement?"

  • Character groups share their ‘I Think’ statements and use them to write a group ‘We Think’ statement

  • Return to your original tables and share the 'We Think' statement with your table who had the other Breakfast Club Character Cards in the same color as yours.

Change to slide 28 and instruct all participants to return to their original table (where participants sat at the start of the session). Once participants have returned to their original seats, they begin to share their "We Think" statements with the other participants who had the other four "Breakfast Club Character Cards" in the same color (these groups are will be mixed characters: Brian, Allison, John, Andrew, and Claire). After groups have had an opportunity to share within their groups, ask a few groups to share out a brief report of what was discussed to the whole group.

Use slide 29 to transition to the Learning Experience. Change to slide 30. This activity provides the opportunity for participants to link and explain how Game-Based Learning supports the challenge of meeting a variety of students' needs and learning styles. Participants first share their own experience with the game play assigned.

Change to slide 31. Table groups identify two characters from the whole sheet of Breakfast Club Characters (same color as their bookmark cards) and discuss how Game-Based Learning could meet the needs of these students specifically.


Use slide 33 to transition to Preparing to Advocate. Now that participants have had an opportunity to connect and explain their individual and collective understanding of Game-Based Learning (online or hands-on), they extend understanding to implementation and next steps beyond the session.

Change to slide 34. Explain these are helpful resources you can use as you prepare to advocate (see slide and Agenda for details regarding resources).

Change to slide 35 and introduce the instructional strategy, 3-2-1. The next slide is downloaded and edited from the LEARN site using the PowerPoint Template for this specific instructional strategy.

Change to slide 36. Clicking through this slide, provide a few minutes for participants to reflect and record their answers/thoughts on the provided half sheet of paper labeled "3-2-1."

  • Identify three potential stakeholders (teachers, department chairs, administrators, etc.) who you could approach to share the benefits of using Game-Based Learning experiences to support learning.

  • Generate two statements that succinctly describe the value of GBL.

  • Think of one potential barrier stakeholders might have in using GBL and begin to consider strategies to overcome possible challenges.

If time allows, participants may popcorn out what they recorded for these items.


Ask participants to think about the most significant point of the session. You can do this by starting with a review of the topic and then posing a question, like, “What point made during today’s session helped you understand the importance of promoting game-based learning?” Have them either share this point out loud or write it down. Collect participants responses. Analyze responses and use them as necessary during the follow up reflection session.

Research Rationale


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  • Boggiano, A. K., Shields, A., Barrett, M., Kellam, T., Thompson, E., Simons, J., & Katz, P. (1992). Helplessness deficits in students: The role of motivational orientation. Motivation and Emotion, 16(3), 271-296.

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