Technology in English Classes

A friend of mine told me that a student tour guide at a college he recently visited said, “This is an English Class so it really doesn’t require technology.”

I replied, “#offended. I use more technology than any other teachers on my campus.”

As irritated I was by the tour guide’s statement, however, I think there is some truth to that statement. I feel that many English teachers are either afraid of technology or dismissive of it. I believe this comes from the limited and incorrect view of who we are.

I believe that we – English teachers – shouldn’t teach English. As a matter of fact, I rarely teach “English.” Instead, I construct a learning environment where students can acquire effective communication skills, be it writing, reading or speaking. I have never taught Romeo and Juliet. Rather, I utilize various Shakespearean tragedies to help my students learn the function of literature in the Elizabethan period. I use Lord of the Flies to help my students understand the need for societal structures for humans to maintain humanity.

Just as math teachers teach computational thinking, English teachers teach communication skills.  And since technology is one of the best tools of communication, it should be used in every English class.

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RPG and Literature – What is gamification in a high school English classroom?

Since I came back from the GLS 2013 Conference, I have been thinking about ways to incorporate role playing games into my instructional practices. I met Dr. Hergenrader at the conference who did his dissertation on teaching creative writing using RPG creation. His talk sparked an interest and understanding that I didn’t had before.

The conference enlightened me and expanded my horizon as to what gaming in my classroom could be. I used to think that using digital gaming was what I was supposed to do. But I realized that using game mechanics to enhance learning was what effective gaminification was truly about. My students didn’t need to play games for me to gamify my classroom successfully.

Since I already loved the idea of situated learning, I began thinking about using the game creation rather than game playing – although there definitely was a huge benefit to game playing, which I would like to talk about later – to teach the skills as well as the content that my students needed to learn.

A Gaming Convert

Ever since I came back from the GLS conference, I have been thinking a lot about how to incorporate games into my classroom. The more I think about it, the more I am leaning towards analogue games for its low tech requirement, open-ended nature, and a collaborative structure.

So I asked a friend of mine to teach me how to play some. Not only did he offer to help, he created a Facebook group for me to join (https://www.facebook.com/groups/glazersgamroom/).

I was not a big fan of gaming before attending the GLS. Since then, I have been learning more and more about the benefits. Who knows? I might actually write my dissertation on gaming and education.