Chapter 7.............Exploring Problem Solving with Software, Apps and Games

Key Topics

Interactive Software...........

Learning to........
3D Printing,
Makerspaces and
Maker Movement........

See Special Topic Page on

Serious Games

and Apps for Learning.




Research on Games

and Gaming

external image Beautiful_red_apple.jpgSee Graphite, a new free site for teachers from Common Sense Media that evaluates learning apps, games, websites and other digital tools. The site was launched in June, 2013.

external image Reports.gifA Must-Have Guide to Gaming in the Classroom from EdTechReview (June 2013).
Microsoft and New York University are founding partners of the Games for Learning Institute (G4LI).
Microsoft and New York University are founding partners of the Games for Learning Institute (G4LI).

Interactive Software

TinkerPlots, Software to Make Data Analysis Engaging for Kids

This software, devised and developed at UMASS, specifically aims to interest kids in using data analysis for their own purposes and questions. Just as SCRATCH was developed to put the power of programming and all of the math that this entails into an engaging, creative software for teaching children, Tinkerplots endeavors to achieve the same goal with data analysis. Read the information and view the movies about it. You can TRY THE PROGRAM by USING IT on a computer IN FURCOLO where we have TEAMS. opens the movies where you can view, TinkerPlots Basics.

Getting Started With Scratch

Scratch is a programming language that is easy enough for kindergarteners to play with and challenging enough for college students and everyone beyond the age of 18 to learn. As an interactive activity, the language utilizes creativity and multiple intelligences first, appeals to both girls and boys, teaches far more than is obvious, and is a way for teachers to differentiate instruction with computers.

external image Video_icon_1.pngPlease view the video and consider its incredible usefulness for teaching math

Learning to Code

external image Typing_computer_screen_reflection.jpg
Searching for Computer Science: Access and Barriers in U.S. K-12 Education from Gallup and Google (August 2015)
  • 90% of parents see computer science, or CS, as "a good use of school resources" (and 67% say CS should be required learning alongside other core classes), fewer than 8% of administrators believe parent demand is high
  • Some groups are particularly unlikely to access myriad online tutorials to teach themselves coding at home: 75% of Hispanic students have a computer with Internet access at home, compared to 98% of white students and 85% of African-American students
  • Girls overall are less likely than boys to have had access to learning CS," says Hong, with 57% of boys versus 49% of girls reporting past exposure to computer science.Nearly six in 10 (58%) students in grades seven to 12 say their school offers classes dedicated to computer science. Among students:
    • Slightly fewer (52%) say computer science is taught as part of other classes at their school.
    • Less than half (43%) say their school sponsors a computer science group or club.
    • One-quarter (25%) report having no access to a computer science class or club at school.

Women Who Choose Computer Science--What Really Matters: The Critical Role of Encouragement and Exposure from Google (May 26, 2014)

'Disrupting' Tech's Diversity Problem with a Code Camp for Girls of Color, NPR (August 17, 2015)

3D Printed Flower Model
3D Printed Flower Model

3D Printing, Makerspaces and the Maker Movement

See 3D Printing 4 Teaching & Learning for an informative blog about classroom applications of 3D printing

3D Printing Will Disrupt the World in Ways We Can Barely Imagine, War on the Rocks, December 29, 2015

President Obama Gets First Ever 3D Printed Portrait from YouTube.

external image US-WhiteHouse-Logo.svgNation of Makers website from the White House

external image Reports.gif2011 Game Player Data from the Entertainment Software Association.
  • Adult women represent a greater portion of the game-playing population (37 percent) than boys age 17 or younger (13 percent).
  • 72 percent of American households play computer and video games.

external image 200px-Tablet-apple-ipad.svg.png11 Virtual Tools for the Math Classroom from Edutopia (October 25, 2013).

Simulation Games as a Learning Resource

Teacher Jeremiah McCall on Simulation Games
*McCall, J. (2010). Analyzing game principles can teach as much as game content. Retrieved December 8, 2011, from, J. (2011). Gaming the past: Using video games to teach secondary history. New York: Routledge.
*McCall, J. (2011, October 3). Jeremiah McCall on Using Simulation Games in the History Classroom. Retrieved December 1, 2011, from
McCAll, J. (2012). Navigating the Problem Space: The Medium of Simulation Games in the Teaching of History. The History Teacher, 46(1): 9-28.

TOADY Awards 2012 (Toys Oppressive and Destructive to Young Children) from the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood. These "awards" are given every year to identify harmful toys and counter the influence of consumerism on the lives of children and families.

Math Apps for Preschool Children

Field Testing the Math Apps, from the New York Times (September 3, 2013) explores new games for preschoolers to learn math.

Next Generation Preschool Math
Graph showing how much rice grains the website FreeRice has donated from 2007 to 2008
Graph showing how much rice grains the website FreeRice has donated from 2007 to 2008

Research on Learning Games/Serious Games

external image 200px-Paperback_book_black_gal.svg.pngReality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World, Jane McGonigal. Penguin Press, 2011.

Synthesis Report on the Games, Learning and Assessment (GLA) Workshops

From Wellings, J. & Levine, M. (2009, October). The Digital Promise: Transforming Learning with Innovative Uses of Technology. The Joan Ganz Cooney Center.
  • "Three-quarters of American children, including a significant portion of children from economically challenged families, play computer and video games" p. 10).
  • Although games are criticized by many commentators as escapist activities lacking educational value, researchers have contended that games promote critical thinking and problem solving.

For more, see Thai, A.M., Lowenstein, D., Ching, D., & Rejeski, D. (2009). Game Changer: Investing in digital play to advance children’s learning and health. The Joan Ganz Cooney Center.

Our Princess is in Another Castle: A Review of Trends in Serious Gaming in Education from the Review of Educational Research, March 2012.

Gaudelli, W. & Taylor, A. (2011). Modding the global classroom? Serious video games and teacher reflection. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 11(1), 70-91. AACE. "Serious video games, or those that simulate the real world, motivate players, require decision-making, and encourage student learning about an issue, have the potential to educate students about global issues."

Fisher, S. (2011) Playing with World War II: A small scale study of learning in video games. Journal of the Canadian Game Studies Association, Vol 5(8): 71-89.
Video games focus players' attention in ways that can promote engaged learning about topics. Study by York University Professor Stephanie Fisher found that teenagers who played video games about World War II were more interested in learning about history than teens who did not play.

"I Played the News Today, Oh Boy," Laura Bennett, Boston Sunday Globe, July 3, 2011, pp. K1-K2.
Game developers are beginning to explore ways to present current events using video games.
  • Cutthroat Capitalism uses the Somali pirates to examine the economics of piracy in the modern global world.
  • Credit Crunch addresses the causes of the 2009 world financial crisis.
  • Fallout 3 explores the wreckage of the Fukushima Dai-ichi Japanese nuclear power plant
  • Peacemaker focuses on negotiating peace in the Middle East from the perspectives of a Palestinian president or an Israeli prime minister.

external image 200px-Paperback_book_black_gal.svg.pngNewsgames: Journalism at Play. Ian Bogost, Simon Ferrari, & Bobby Schweizer. MIT Press, 2010.

Gentile, D. (2012, February, 23). Are video games beneficial? WAMC New England Public Radio. Retrieved February 29, 2012, from

California 10th Graders Improve Their Writing Skills—Through an Interactive Fiction Game, from School Library Journal (April 2013).

Animations as Learning Technologies

Click here to view a math problem solving animation.

Click here to see an geometry animation

Intelligent Tutoring Systems (ITS)

Bloom's Two Sigma Problem Revisited (January 23, 2013).