This article is based upon the work of Jonathan deHaan, an Associate Professor in the Faculty of International Relations at the University of Shizuoka, Japan. Jonathan is also the director of the Game Lab at the University of Shizuoka. He also co-edits the Ludic Language Pedagogy Journal with Dr. James York.
"I teach language and literacy using games. I use all kinds of games: board and card games, tabletop roleplaying games, video games, mobile games, roleplays, simulations and play.
Students don’t just play games on their own. I take students through playing games, discussing games, analyzing games and then participating in society. I help students choose game-based projects that will help transform themselves into who they want to become.
To help me learn about my students, and to help them share important aspects of themselves so that I can teach them, students complete and share a workbook about themselves. Then, I introduce them to various games, tasks, research questions and projects that I think connect who they are to who they want to become. Students react by engaging in the activities (playing games, having discussions, completing worksheets) that we collaboratively decide to do.
Then, I react to their actions and reflections. I build on their efforts and connect them to their stated goals. Students, then, must take another strong step and put forth effort to more carefully observe, research, take notes, look, collect and explain their experiences or additional information in society to contextualize their experience. I help them more completely answer the questions that they have and to satisfy their curiosity and expand their perspectives. Students, finally, use the knowledge and experiences they have deepened and acquired along the way to complete a big project and make a huge effort to be the person they want to become.
Finally, we work together to reflect and plan again. All students become able to point at experiences and articulate connections and explain what and how and why they have changed and who they are now and who they want to become next. I’m encouraged by the transformation I see in my students.
I know that I am teaching who my students are, I am focused on who they want to be, and together we see how they have transformed through our discussions and project work. I’m really energized by the transformation I see in myself, too. I enjoy and am stimulated by my teaching more than I used to be. I’ve become more by learning how to help students become more."
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