Friday, June 22, 2012

Portal Your Classroom

Isn’t Valve awesome? Yeah we’d all love to work for them and Gabe, our unofficial holy man. Valve has released an online program called Teach with Portals. As you can guess it’s education by using the video game Portal.

For those who haven’t played Portal (and why not you crazy person?), the game boasts a series of puzzles that challenge critical thinking in multiple areas from math, to physics and other science!, and even English. It has an unintentional learning aspect.

The website offers lesson plans created by teachers using the Portal 2 Puzzle Maker feature. It also acts as an interactive community for exchanging levels and teaching experiences with one another. Even better, Valve is making Portal 2 and the Puzzle Maker free to teachers that will use it in their lessons.

A spokesperson for Valve has stated that they hope the program will help make “physics, math, logic, and spatial reasoning interesting…which gets us one step closer to our goal – engaged, thoughtful kids.” It’s a good step. One of my biggest complaints with schools today is the idea of teaching to the test. So many states and districts have these yearly tests to gauge how much students have learned, and how good of a job a teacher is doing. So teachers are only teaching to get kids to pass the test. Critical thinking, problem solving, and basic life skills needed are being left behind because tests don’t review those aspects. It sucks! The system doesn’t prepare you for life.

The Teach with Portals program could be a great first step into getting kids to meet the future. That’s cheesy, but it’s true. Too many of us today just sit and do what we’re told. We need our youth to be able to think outside of the box


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