Tag Archives: Video games as a teaching aid

Educators Are Using Video Games To Enhance Learning In Class

“History has long served as a backdrop in the Assassin’s Creed video games, whose story lines center on pivotal times in history — from the Third Crusade to Imperial China and beyond…Following last year’s release of Assassin’s Creed Origins, set in Ptolemaic Egypt, the team behind it decided that allowing players to learn more about life in ancient Egypt might make for a pretty cool teaching aid. So they traded in the quests and violence for antiquities and history lessons, and created a mode with a series of Discovery Tours. By putting history front and center, the game may give teachers a new way to connect with some students.” J. Porter, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Learning History through video games. Visions of Education

Excerpt: Assassin’s Creed Has a New Mission: Working in the Classroom, By Justin Porter, The New York Times

“Edyeli Marku, a middle-school teacher at Intermediate School 230 in Jackson Heights, Queens, said there could be ‘tremendous value in it,’ for both students and educators — particularly for students who might test as primarily visual, auditory or kinesthetic learners. For those students, she added, ‘exposing them to a different learning vehicle is always beneficial.’   

Ms. Marku said she understands the importance of games to her students and has even used Oregon Trail as a teaching tool…Maxime Durand, who has been the lead researcher and history consultant for the Assassin’s Creed franchise since 2010, and Jean Guesdon, the creative director on Origins, said they had often heard from educators who saw the potential of using the games. Some had even used small portions in their lessons.

This class is playing video games and learning. Photo-The Day

But so much of Assassin’s Creed, given its violence and fictional narrative, is problematic in a school setting. Even Ms. Marku said the violent content could hamper the franchise’s acceptance for education purposes, especially for parents reacting to the name of the series or those familiar with its subject matter.

In this version of the game, though, players guide their chosen avatar. It can be the sheriff-like character Bayek, the original protagonist of Assassin’s Creed Origins, or one of 25 possible others…A voice-over details the objects on view, including artifacts like pottery, scrolls, farm tools and baking ovens. At some locations, non-playable characters are seen performing tasks like baking bread, tilling a field or inscribing scrolls.

Image: Fenix Bazaar

Here players can elect to have their chosen avatar perform the activity. Maybe Cleopatra and Caesar never knelt before a bread oven to remove a hot loaf from the coals, but here players can have that experience…To make the games accessible to broader range of schools, which typically have computers or tablets rather than game consoles, Ubisoft released a stand-alone version of the Discovery Tour for computers, even those with aging hardware.”



Photo courtesy of ABC15 Arizona

“John McCain was a warrior, a patriot, and a man of immeasurable courage. What a privilege it was to know him.“-Victoria Reggie Kennedy, The Boston Globe


ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced

Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.

Time: Approximately 2 hours.

Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.

Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Using a Pre-reading Organizer

Directions:  Ask students to examine the title of the post and of the actual article they are about to read. Then, have them  examine the photos. Ask students to write a paragraph describing what they think this article will discuss. Students can use a Pre-reading organizer for assistance.

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. History has long served as a backdrop in the Assassin’s Creed video games.
  2. The story lines center on pivotal times in history.
  3. Exposing students to a different learning vehicle is always beneficial.
  4. Many educators saw the potential of using  video games.
  5. In this version of the game players guide their chosen avatar.
  6. A voice-over details the objects on view.
  7. Some characters are seen performing tasks like baking bread, tilling a field or inscribing scrolls.
  8. Professor  Éthier was intrigued by the game.
  9. Today the Sphinx and the the pyramids are bleached white  by the sun.
  10. Once these monuments were once vividly colored.


Reading Comprehension: Fill-ins

Directions: Place students in groups and after they have read the entire article, have them complete the following sentencestaken from the article. They can use the words and terms from the list provided, or provide their own terms. They are to find the meanings of any new vocabulary.

Marc-André Éthier, a professor at the ___of Montreal who ___materials that are being used to___ high school history, noticed that ___tools like ___were being used less. When he ___about the Discovery Tour, he said, ‘I was___ and I prepared a ___to test if Discovery Tour could ___someone as much as a lecture.’

WORD LIST: teach, traditional, University, teach, intrigued, studies,textbooks,study, heard,


Grammar Focus: Structure and Usage

Directions: The following groups of sentences are from the article. One of the sentences in each group contains a grammatical  error. Students are to identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.


  1. They traded in the quests and violence for antiquities and history.
  2. Teachers has a new way to connect with students.
  3. Ms. Marku said she understands the importance of games.


  1. They can spend hours in front of the computer.
  2. Durand has been the lead researcher since 2010.
  3. A avatar  can be any character the students choose.


  1. The 75 available tours cover daily life.
  2. A lot of history’s secret are lost to time.
  3. Students learn how games are created and the way stories are told.


III. Post Reading Activities

Finding The Main Idea

Directions:  Have students use this advanced organizer from Write Design to assist them with  discussing  or writing about  the main idea and points from the article.

Discussion for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Place students in groups and have them  discuss the following questions/statements. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.

  1. In your opinion do you think that certain video games can enhance learning in the classroom? Explain why or why not.
  2. Have you ever used video games in your class? If yes, describe the experience. If no, would you like to try one?
  3. Review the descriptions of the following video games. Choose one and explain why you think it would be beneficial for your class.

Suggestions For Video Games For The Classroom From Rubicon:

Elegy for a Dead World — The premise of this game is that students visit alien planets and act as the storyteller of that world, creating stories of the possible people and cultures that lived there.  These words are inspired by poets Byron, Keats, and Shelley, providing an easy connection to English curriculum.

Never Alone — This game has set a precedent for the respectful representation of indigenous people.  Co-developed by native Alaskans, it shares Inupiat stories, themes, and values, in addition to making cooperation a critical part of success in the gameplay.  Best of all, it features documentary-style videos on of the Inupiat people who provide context for the sights, sounds, and stories found in gameplay.

Valiant Hearts — A major complaint I have with popular war games is that they can, to some audiences, glorify war while downplaying the intricacies of cause and effect.  The beauty of Valiant Hearts is that it doesn’t attempt to glorify war, and it doesn’t  focus on the guns and battles.

The Republica Times: For older students, there are a wide variety of games addressing social and political issues available for use and analysis.  Games, like The Republica Times, essentially play the role of interactive social commentary.  In the game, your students are tasked with organizing the headlines for each day’s paper in the game.

Enercities: Science teachers, don’t fret!  There are games addressing science topics, like the balance between economy, ecology, population growth, and quality of life found in the free online game Enercities.  A more focused Sim-style game, Enercities provides a sandbox for students to create a city with the goal of keeping a balance between all of the aforementioned categories.

1-Minute Free Writing Exercise

Directions: Allow students 1 minute to write down one new idea they’ve learned from the reading. Ask them to write down one thing they did not understand in the reading.  Review the responses as a class. Note: For the lower levels allow more time for this writing activity.