Fortnite, and other games like it, require students to practice “teamwork, collaboration, strategic thinking, spatial understanding, and imagination,” Stanford Graduate School of Education experts say. 5th graders would agree, although they didn’t realize it at first.
I’ve been working with small groups of teachers to critically examine student agency, and how it is developed, nurtured, and grown in the learning environment. In one of our meetings, 5th grade teacher Dan Dahl shared with us that he has a group of students that love Fortnite. He asked them, “So what do you do when you get stuck in the game?” Students were quick to share their strategies:
- Look at YouTube videos to see how others completed the task
- Ask a friend who may have already beaten that level
- Practice the skill needed in the online “playground mode”
- Try other skills to see if the task can be accomplished other ways
- And of course, keep trying!
When Dan asked students what strategies they might use when they are stuck with a math problem, it took a moment…
The connection was made – the strategies students were using to find the path to success in Fortnite are the same strategies they could use to find the path to success in their academic life, too.
For some, it was a #mindblown moment.
Thing is, many of our students already exhibit agency, which is the capacity and propensity to take purposeful initiative. They just don’t always get the opportunity to do it at school. It’s up to us to connect those dots and provide meaningful ways for students to take their own initiative to learn.