Week Five: How are games providing new opportunities for differentiation in the classroom?

How are games providing new opportunities for differentiation in the classroom?

I believe games provide many opportunities for differentiation in the classroom. There are many games out on the Internet that teachers can use to help differentiate instruction. The goal is finding the right ones that align with your curriculum.

For example, I know math students are using Khan Academy. Khan Academy is a program that is on the computer and works with the students’ levels and lets them move to the next level when they are ready. This is a great program because in math so many of the students possess different areas of skills. This lets them work on the skills they need to work on and move at their own pace.

MyAccess is also another great program that I used a few years ago. In the beginning, the students take a reading pretest. This will then determine their reading level. When I was using this program, I had students access it once a week. They would log in and be given a story to read. They had questions at the end to work on comprehension. This was a great program because it gave them stories that were at their reading levels. If they started to improve, then it would move them up to the next level. This was a great way to differentiate reading in the classroom.

Minecraft, I am learning, is also a great game to differentiate in the classroom. The students can work in groups, alone, or with just one other person. You can have them use their creativity to design projects, build structures, or reconstruct whole landscapes. There is much more that I am learning that you can use to differentiate instruction with Minecraft. I am excited to learn more and one day use this with my students.

Games are great for students because they know games and have grown up playing games. Studies published over the past two decades support the idea that video games can increase students’ spatial knowledge, improving their aptitude for math and science (Ossola, 2015). As Alan Gershenfeld, the president of videogame publisher E-line Media, points out from the article Teaching In The Age Of Minecraft, “Games are . . . uniquely suited to fostering the skills necessary for navigating a complex, interconnected, rapidly changing 21st century” (Quoted in Games in The Classroom, What Research Says). According to Ed Dieterle, Senior Program Officer for Research, Measurement, for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, “Learning increases by 12% by using games in the classroom.” Fifty-three percent of teachers found that using video games fosters positive collaboration between students (Shapiro, 2014). Gaming is something that is becoming more and more common n school. Teachers who don’t know gaming need to learn about it so they can bring it into their classrooms.

Mangahigh’s games allow the teacher to set the starting point, and then the students to go through a series of challenges. Students can go through it quickly or go through material they don’t know yet. This sounds like a good site to look more into. Mueller (2014) has found it to be a “well-designed game that leads players through carefully-leveled tasks that prepare them to succeed in bigger challenges.” What a teacher needs to do is find out what games are best for their curriculum.

I still need to find games for social studies. I have not used a great deal of gaming in my classroom but I am willing and ready to try. I know they are so many games to explore. I just need to find the right one that will relate to my curriculum. I think, once I find games that match up well with what I am teaching, I am going to feel more comfortable using them in the classroom, and I know they will help to differentiate my instruction. It will be better for my students because they will be learning at their level and not the level I am expecting for all students. I look forward to the day when I am using gaming more in my classroom and seeing the difference it will make with my students,



Mueller, K. (2014). Mixing it Up with Mangahigh: Using Games to Differentiate Instruction. Retrieved February 13, 2015, from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/mangahigh-games-to differentiate-instruction-kristofmueller.

Ossola, A. (2015). Teaching in the Age of Minecraft. Retrieved February 13, 2015, from http://www.theatlantic.com/ education/archive/2015/02/teaching-in-the-age-of-minecraft/385231/.

Shapiro, J. (2014). Games in The Classroom: What the Research Says. Retrieved February 13, 2015, from http://blogs. kqed.org/mindshift/2014/06/games-in-the classroom-what-the-research-says/.

6 thoughts on “Week Five: How are games providing new opportunities for differentiation in the classroom?

  1. I use Mangahigh in my classroom. I used it regularly a few years ago, but now mainly when I have students in study hall that don’t have any homework to do. It’s a great site, you can look at how your students are doing in each of the areas that they are playing games. They can earn different medals as they go along. You can also have your kids compete against kids from different schools in different countries, I never did, but I think it would be really cool to incorporate that into my math curriculum. It’s also nice because it’s free and all the kids have their own login and password but are connected to the teacher account so it’s easy to track students. I have to do website reviews for my math class and did one of my reviews on Mangahigh so I looked at the personal reviews and there were nothing but positive comments on it. It’s definitely a good website to look into.


  2. Manga high sounds like it’s worth looking into. I’ll be checking it out soon.
    I was thinking that Khan academy isn’t really a game, but some parts kind of are. Some if my students have used their tutorials to start learning to code. Even though it’s instructional, the students are also creating something and they can use their creativity to take things to new levels. I’m pretty excited about all of the sites that teach code, and quite a few of my students are starting to get into it.


  3. My son is a fifth grader and he is using Khan Academy for math. I used it last semester with some students while focusing on science. It is a wonderful source, once again, if used correctly. Not only are games a good thing because it is something they know and are comfortable with, but this game is very popular right now so it holds a lot of excitement for them to participate in during class time. I usually do case studies after school, since I can’t do it during the school day and the kids are happy to help me out by doing whatever lesson I have set up for them. Even after I am done with my class and have turned in my work I will have students ask me when they can be taught again using Minecraft. Lee proved the other week that you could even use Minecraft for social studies. It get the kids excited about researching what happened so they can be an active member when gaming. I think you are doing great, when something is new to you and you at least give it a chance that is a step in the right direction. Not everything works well for everyone, but that is when you can change things up for that student.


  4. You make a really important point here, Theresa: “I just need to find the right one that will relate to my curriculum. I think, once I find games that match up well with what I am teaching, I am going to feel more comfortable using them in the classroom, and I know they will help to differentiate my instruction.”

    So often in education, we go at this from the wrong angle: We find something fun or cool, and try to figure out how to wedge it into our curriculum instead of starting with what we want students to learn and then finding a resource that supports the original goal. I am always drawn to the blog posts and infographics that help organize and sort games, apps, web tools, whatever by standard and/or content area. These types of resources really help us, as educators, keep our eye on the prize and then find tools to support. This list from Common Sense Media might help with your quest to find Social Studies specific tools! https://www.commonsensemedia.org/lists/social-studies-apps-games-and-websites


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s