ISTE20Creative Constructor
Lab Virtual
Digital Leadership
Summit at ISTE20 Live
ISTE21Edtech Advocacy &
Policy Summit

The Ultimate Cross-Curricular Project: The Game Design Challenge

Location: W185d

Listen and learn

Listen and learn : Lecture

Wednesday, June 27, 10:30–11:30 am
Location: W185d

Mike Washburn  
Every year, my grade 8 students embark on a year-long project to create a video game. They design the characters, create their own graphics, write an original story, produce trailers, and code using Scratch by MIT. You will leave inspired to bring game design to your own students.

Skill level: Intermediate
Attendee devices: Devices useful
Attendee device specification: Laptop: Chromebook, Mac, PC
Focus: Digital age teaching & learning
Topic: Game-based learning and gamification
Grade level: PK-12
Subject area: STEM/STEAM, Computer science
ISTE Standards: For Educators:
  • Use technology to create, adapt and personalize learning experiences that foster independent learning and accommodate learner differences and needs.
  • Foster a culture where students take ownership of their learning goals and outcomes in both independent and group settings.
  • Create learning opportunities that challenge students to use a design process and computational thinking to innovate and solve problems.
Related exhibitors: Schoology , Google, Inc.

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

Participants will be inspired not only to bring programming to their classroom but game-based learning in a project-based framework. They will see how scaffolding learning over a few years can lead to powerful outcomes when the learning culminates in a project incorporating all the goals they have accomplished. Participants will appreciate that game-based learning does not have to mean playing video games but can involve a creation process as well - teach students to MAKE the games they play. Participants will see that through a scaffolded approach not only are the needs of the project met but along the way students are learning how to use tools critical to their success in the future such as Google Apps, Photoshop, iMovie and After Effects. Participants will also discover that a project like this allows them to be mentors to their students not simply instructors with authority over them. They will learn that guiding a student through an independent process can be a rewarding experience as an educator. Participants will also see this as an opportunity to grow and develop 21st century skills in students and develop lasting and meaningful habits that will serve them as learners for years to come. This project specifically, if replicated, would provide students with an entry level university game design experience before they even reach high school.


1) Introduce and define Game-Based Learning, Project-Based Learning, Backwards Design, Scaffolding (10 mins)
- Include reference to peer review literature on value of methods
- Focus on concept of game theme for engagement
2) Describe units and scaffolded subjects by grade leading to competency in Grade 8 to complete the project. (20 mins)
- Demonstration of progressive outcomes on units by grade (Example Photography in Grade 3 to Graphic Design in Grade 7)
3) Show results of project, exemplars. (10 mins)
4) Invite participants to PLAY student created games (10 mins)
5) Answer questions (10 mins)

Supporting research

Maguth, B. M., List, J. S., & Wunderle, M. (2014). Teaching Social Studies with Video Games. The Social Studies, 106(1), 32-36. doi:10.1080/00377996.2014.961996

Campbell, C. (2013, July 09). Shakespeare … Steinbeck … Harper Lee … Ni no Kuni. Retrieved February 09, 2017, from

Squire, Kurt. “Open-Ended Video Games: A Model for Developing Learning for the Interactive Age.” The Ecology of Games: Connecting Youth, Games, and Learning. Edited by Katie Salen. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Series on Digital Media and Learning. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2008. 167–198. doi: 10.1162/dmal.9780262693646.167

Virtual Worlds and Real Life: an autoethnographical journey in online gaming. – See more at:

Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World Penguin Group , The ©2011
ISBN:1594202850 9781594202858

More [+]


person photo
Mike Washburn, Participate / OnEducation

I am a teacher, consultant and speaker and on a number of topics including curriculum design and technology integration, digital learning, computational thinking, iPad and tablet use in education, game/play based learning and video game based learning. In my role as a Computer Studies Teacher and Department Head at Richmond Hill Montessori and Elementary Private School in Richmond Hill, Ontario, I teach students from Grade Three through Grade Eight a comprehensive, innovative, and engaging Computer Science curriculum.

People also viewed

Beyond Tinkercad
Closing Keynote with Nadia Lopez, Ph.D.
Ready Player One: ISTE Game Nite