Game ON – How kids want to learn by John McCarthy, Ed.S.

chess by a girl

This past spring my two teenagers got me involved in playing Clash of Clans. It’s a game played on smart phones and tablets. It’s free, which is a major criteria for my cost-conscious kids, followed by if it captures their attention. Clash of Clans hooked them and me with it’s strategy and world building aspects. You build mines, storage, and a town hall, while also developing an army to attack other fortresses designed by players or an IA (the computer). Defenses are developed such as walls and cannon to deter other players from a raiding your fortress.

Building the various types of equipment costs resources and takes real time–many days–to become operational. Meanwhile, players form teams called clans so that they can provide protection and conduct wars against other clans–hence the game title.


What’s interesting is that there are many game titles from a variety of genres that are free to play:

My teens spend many hours playing these games in between their other tasks in a busy schedule. Like other educators I’ve wondered how to harness this energy and drive. It’s something I’ve explored regarding Constructivist Learning in a State Standards/Common Core Environment. So when I proposed the idea of a project where students could play games as homework so that they can do research and analysis for designing and publishing new strategies to help other players–my daughter said, “That would be the best class ever!” So with the help and inspiration of my teens, I’ve created a project based unit that addresses learning standards for English Language Arts.

It could expand to other subject areas, which I’d love your thoughts as to what might be added.

It’s intense work, vetted by the target audience, and something that students would enjoy doing–and they’ll learn content standards. I’ve used a template by the Buck Institute for Education. I may revise this as more ideas and suggestions are made.

Project Based Learning Unit: GameOn

My son already has me thinking about another gaming project based learning unit that would include standards in English, Math, and Economics. Stay tuned…