“What I learned from Video Games” By ‘Student X’

As I  mentioned in my previous post about unleashing a student’s inner super hero,  I work with a gifted student in high school who has been failed by the school system. Like many teen boys, he is very into video games. As adults, we often tell students that video games are useless in real life. After many long conversations with Student X, I realized that teachers should not dismiss them so quickly and instead, we should figure out how to use this to our advantage.

I understand where teachers are coming from as well. “Life isn’t all about video games. Not everything in the classroom can be fun and stimulating all the time.” I know how much time goes into planning lessons and it’s just not feasible to turn class into a video game.

So to start, there are a few things we need to recognize first. First, video games aren’t just about escaping reality and responsibility (although the fact that so many students feel they need to do this is a clear sign that education is not meaningful or relevant enough to these students).  These games create communities of like-minded individuals who work together to solve a problem (or defeat a Boss).  Here is how these communities helped Student X.

A bit of background:

  • Student X’s first played a game called “Defense of the Ancients” or “DOTA”.
  • Next was League of Legends
  • Third, was Overwatch
  • Some of these games are Multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA), also known as action real-time strategy (ARTS), in which a player controls a single character in a team who compete versus another team of players. Player characters typically have various abilities and advantages that improve over the course of a game and that contribute to a team’s overall strategy.

This following section was written by Student X

r892440_8977197Before DOTA

  • Little care was put into thinking before acting
  • Insistent on believing that any and all of mine own personal faults were caused entirely by other people and could only be fixed by other people
  • Under the belief that there was no human being capable of comparing to myself.
  • Working with troublesome people often ended in a very petty shouting match that often yielded nothing positive or useful

After DOTA 

  • Some semblance of humility was acquired as a result of the repeated, merciless failure I was previously presented with as the fruit of my actions
  • Arguments became significantly less common with me
  • A passable understanding of other people and what went on in their minds was attained
  • I also simply learned the game’s mechanics which made it much easier to adapt to similar circumstances in real life (to fully explain this I fear I would have to explain the concept of the MOBA genre of games)

After Overwatch/During League

  • maxresdefaultBecame quite clear to me that most all of my faults are the result of my own doing.
  • My partaking in arguments went from being uncommon to rare, as they were very commonly deemed by me to be pointless.
  • Ability to work with a team (while it was considered to me as a last resort) was much greater than ever it had been in the past.
  • This was also the first game I had ever achieved a significantly high rank in as my career high was amongst the top 8% of players. This was a clear indication of both my eye for strategy and my competence coming together.

Now (After League of Legends)

gamebox(Perhaps “Now” was a better header for this section but I figured “After League” would be more thematic)

  • Exceptionally capable of reasoning
  • Experienced in leading and/or orchestrating groups of people to attain a common goal
  • Arguments are avoided at all costs assuming I can see the advantage in doing so
  • Especially capable of effectively masquerading as different personality types in order to get on someone’s good side if necessary (Don’t know how beneficial it is to reveal this but I’m certainly interested in finding out)
  • Able to keep track of multiple people/things at the same time
  • Strategizing has become one of my strong suits which connects back to my ability to thrive in a leadership role (in spite of the fact that I tend to avoid them)
  • Putting together lists of variables and determining how they might interact with each other in a given environment/scenario.

So, to summarize, video games taught this student:

  • provided character role models and mentors (someone to relate to and look up to). These games have highly developed characters with detailed back stories. Check out these League characters for example.
  • intrapersonal skills: perseverance and resilience, how to take personal responsibility for his actions instead of blaming others.
  • interpersonal skills : leadership skills, negotiating skills
  • a sense of achievement (something more meaningful than say, acing a test on a subject you don’t care about)
  • Strategy: how to take into account multiple factors to tackle a problem (in context problem solving, not overly simplistic questions we often ask on tests)

So the point of this article isn’t to get you to make school more like video games. What we need to do is to create more situations where work together to solve a meaningful problems.  For more ideas, see the previous article on unleashing your student’s inner super hero.

For these students, playing games isn’t a distraction — it’s the lesson.

Read more: www.cbc.ca/1.4654087?cmp=FB_Post_News

Check out Scott Hebert’s Ted Talk here:


The Museum – Maker Space Challenges


Students will learn by doing through experimentation, exploration and by ‘failing’ forward in unique 75 minute workshops delivered in our one-of-a-kind MakerSpace. Take part in projects across one of seven core program streams: 3D Modeling, Computer Programming, Circuitry & Soldering, Woodworking, Screenprinting, Textiles, or Deconstruction. Each program is linked to Ontario Curriculum expectations with an emphasis on inquiry-based learning and developing critical thinking skills.

It All Starts Here.


Through proper use of hand and power tools for woodworking, students will cut, drill and fasten materials to measured specifications for the design of a tool box.


Students will create digital circuits that carry out a specific task while considering electrical principles such as voltage, current and resistance. Students will complete the workshop by soldering a circuit together as a take home badge.


Students will learn about the engineering design process to consider a simple challenge by deconstructing found objects using tools and methods provided. They will then be tasked with assembling a unique object that fulfills an imagined function.


Introduce your students to computer programming in a visual environment using the Scratch platform. Interpret how different logical statements change how a system behaves and experiment with different sensory commands to see what programs are capable of doing.


Challenge your students to create a program using the Arduino platform that causes lights to blink. Students will learn about the relationship between hardware and software by wiring systems together. Finally, students will decode a message in ASCII with the help from our robot Nali!


Using traditional screen printing methods, students will create and cut a custom design from heat transfer vinyl and transfer their design onto fabric.


Canadian Citizenship Week: Oct 9-15, 2017

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What does it mean to be a Canadian? Citizenship Week is here!

Citizenship Week is being celebrated across Canada from October 9 to 15, 2017. As we continue to mark Canada 150, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada wants to hear from you! Join many prominent Canadians who will be taking to social media to reflect what it means to be a Canadian and celebrate citizenship!  Share stories of your citizenship journey, photos of your citizenship ceremony or videos with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #CitizenshipWeek.
Everyone is invited to show their pride during Citizenship Week and attend a special citizenship ceremony in your area. Details of where ceremonies are taking place, as well as information on how to organize a reaffirmation ceremony can be found at Canada.ca/celebrate-citizenship

Teacher Resources

Teacher guides have been developed in partnership with IRCC and CBC. The guides include grade-specific (grades 1-12) classroom activities which are built around expanding knowledge and awareness of Citizenship. They are available now to download for free on  Curio.ca Curio.ca is CBC and Radio-Canada’s online subscriber-based streaming service developed expressly for the Canadian educational community.
Also, during the entire month of October,Curio.ca’s Canada 150: Immigration collection  will be freely accessible to the public. Learn how immigration is one of the central themes in Canadian history.

Online Citizenship Resources

IRCC is proud to provide tools to help your students learn about Canadian citizenship.
·Canada Day 1   explores the multifaceted experiences of newcomers, from their first day to how Canada became their home, from Confederation in 1867 to the present day.
·Francophone Immigration in Canada: a part of our history explores how, from the banks of the Atlantic to the shores of British Columbia, Francophones have had a huge impact on Canada’s history.
To learn more about what IRCC learning tools and resources are available, contact IRCC>Outreach-Rayonnement.IRCC@cic.gc.ca
This message is being sent from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada as a resource for educators.

The Canadian Fluid Power Challenge

competition_tmbThe Canadian Fluid Power Challenge is intended to provide Grade 7 and 8 students with hands-on experience building a controlled mechanism with real world applicability and to open their eyes and those of their teachers to technology careers and, in particular, careers in fluid power.

The Challenge is an excellent complement to the science and technology curriculum at these grade levels.

At a minimum, the organizers hope that the Challenge will encourage students to select more mathematics and science courses in their high school programs to keep their options open for technology-based post-secondary studies.

The CFPA currently sponsors two types of Fluid Power Challenges.

The National Canadian Fluid Power Challenge, which is just being launched for a 2017 debut will allow teams of students from anywhere in Canada to participate.  Their efforts will be judged against submissions from across the country.  For more details about the National Challenge click here.

The first Local Fluid Power Challenge was held in Toronto in 2001 and, with a few interruptions beyond the CFPA’s control, has been held annually ever since.  A similar Challenge was held in Edmonton for a few years but is presently dormant at that location. For more details about the Local Challenges click here.

Be a STEM Program Champion

We are offering three levels of sponsorship for our new National Challenge:
• Platinum Sponsor $5000
• Gold Sponsor $1000
• Silver Sponsor $500

As a sponsor, your company or organization will be visible to parents, teachers, students and the general public in various ways including logos on communications, t-shirts, signage, media releases, websites and social media with the details varying depending on the level of your sponsorship.

Contact info@cfpa.ca to learn more.

UWaterloo CEMC Beaver Computing Challenge (BCC)

Beaver LogoThe Beaver Computing Challenge (BCC) is designed to get students with little or no previous experience excited about computing.

Grade 5/6 BCC. Grade 7/8 BCC. Grade 9/10 BCC.


Written during two weeks of November. See details for current year.


  • 45 minutes
  • 12 multiple choice questions for 60 total marks (Grade 5/6)
  • 15 multiple choice questions for 90 total marks (Grade 7/8 and Grade 9/10)
  • some calculators permitted

The contest is written online in schools. More information for the supervising teachers is available.


The BCC is a problem solving contest with a focus on computational and logical thinking. Questions are inspired by topics in computer science but only require comfort with concepts found in mathematics curriculum common to all provinces. Connections to Computer Science are described in the solutions to all past contests.

Registration Information

Schools register online by the deadline. View fees.

Schools that have not registered for previous contests are encouraged to participate.

Contest Preparation

The BCC exposes students to a new subject and way of thinking so there isn’t a need to prepare for the contest. However, you can get a feel for the style of the problems by viewing past contests and these sample questions.

Results and Recognition

See the most recently available results booklet and averages and award cutoffs. Teachers can access their students’ results and generate certificates.

We emphasize participation but also recognize top-performing students.

Instructions for Reprinting Certificates

Log into the school results page using your school number and confidential password. Under “Contest certificates”, choose “Beaver Computing Challenge”.

Schools and teachers across the U.S. and Canada regard Tammy Worcester Tang as one of our country’s leading education technology experts (tammyworcester.com). She provides valuable insight to the development of our online games and apps and is co-writing a book with Greg on word problems for grades K-2 that will be published by Teacher Created Materials.


Four years ago, Greg Tang launched this website from a small coffee shop in Arlington, Massachusetts as a way to make his books, games, and teaching materials available to more students and teachers. Today, it is used by classrooms around the world to supplement their math curriculums and develop better computational and problem-solving skills.

Every activity has been designed to teach a critical skill or strategy while providing the repetition and practice required for mastery. Most importantly, each stays true to the ideal that teaching and learning should be clever and fun. None of our games use non-math activities to incent students to play. The hook of every game is the math itself and students spend every second doing math. It is all math, all the time.

Today, we are working harder than ever to improve our site. Soon, we’ll be adding instructional videos, organizing more national events like our Winter Math Challenge and March MATHness Tournament, and adding multiplayer games that offer kids an exciting alternative to non-educational video and computer games.

GregTangMath.com is an important part of Greg’s mission to help children of all ages, abilities and backgrounds. Since 2013, he has made his site free to everyone and continues to support it through his teaching and writing. We hope you and your students will continue to use and share our site both at school and at home.


The Hour of Code

The Hour of Code is a global movement reaching tens of millions of students in 180+ countries. Anyone, anywhere can organize an Hour of Code event. One-hour tutorials are available in over 45 languages. No experience needed. Ages 4 to 104.

Over the last three years the Hour of Code has reached more than 100 million students in over 180 countries. Last year, you helped make this the largest learning event in history, with record participation from girls and underrepresented minorities.

This year, help us reach every student with the opportunity to learn.

Computers are changing every industry on the planet, and coding has become relevant to a wide range of high-paying jobs—even those outside the technology and engineering fields. For millions of students, the Hour of Code will be an inspiring introduction to this crucial 21st century skill.

Want a technology professional to volunteer in your classroom?

Check out our volunteer database and schedule a classroom visit! We’re excited to be working with both independent professionals and volunteers from huge tech brands to make the Hour of Code even more special!

I’d like to personally thank every educator who’s hosted an Hour of Code so far. You’ve been an inspiration to all of us at Code.org. Thank you for your support, and for all you do for the children of our world.

We hope your students have an amazing time!

Hadi Partovi and the Code.org team