Tuesday, July 28, 2015

10 Ways to Use Clash of Clans in your Classroom

By EdTechManiac, Blair Einfeldt

If you have been living under a rock, or as us in the education world call The School Year, Clash of Clans is a very popular game on the iTunes and Google Play App Stores. That in fact is putting it mildly. It is the number one ranked game, in terms of gross net profit and has been a top 20 downloaded game for nearly two years on both app stores.

To add more context, it is estimated by thinkgaming.com to rake in $1,653,936 daily with nearly 70 thousand downloads per day. It boasts 4,153,000 current active users. That is ACTIVE users. To put that into perspective, that is more active users than people who live in Wyoming, Vermont, North and South Dakota, and Alaska combined. So big is this industry that they were even able to purchase and air a commercial during the 2015 Super Bowl.

I am one of those Clanners but I came to it in a vastly different way. Last year while teaching in a classroom with an iPad lab, each day as I put the iPads away, I was finding that students had found a way to hack into the iTunes store and were downloading Clash of Clans. Hacking a pedagogy is a topic for another day, however I decided to look into this game to find out what my students were doing.

As I have always adopted the idea of "if you cant beat them, pretend to join them and take them over" model of teaching, I began trying to find logical and functional ways to utilize what my students were already doing, as learning tools. Bear in mind, I teach Language Arts, however more and more, I find that the effectiveness of education is the ability to cross pollinate, so to speak, and teach many subjects at the same time, while it being masked into one subject.

That being said here are some of the many functional uses for this app/game in the classroom setting. Obviously this requires a 1:1 situation or at the very least, a class with smart phone capable students. However with the advent of computer based mobile gaming (Bluestacks, Live Android, Android SDK), C of C can be played on a PC or MAc computer as well free of charge.

1. Social Classes - Within the game there exists many different types of troops. As a Language teacher, we used Clash of Clans as we read Shakespeare's MacBeth. We compared the Barbarians (Ground troops used mostly as front line suicide soldiers) and Archers (Shooters who cost more to train but did more damage from a distance), among the many types of troops, to different educational social classes (jobs requiring high amounts of expensive training vs. Jobs that require less training). We also compared these to the social classes in MacBeth, in society, and even more real scenario, the social classes and cliques in High School. This opened up the door to some great discussions about the importance of each social class and what they provide for society.

2. Basic Math/Cost Efficiency - As the students would begin raiding other bases for elixir, money etc., it becomes important to quickly add up the cost of training vs. the amount receiving in an attack. It may cost 30 thousand elixir to train a dragon but is it worth an attack if you are receiving less than that in return?

3. Delayed Gratification - One of the common core language standards discussed is being able to teach through literature the importance of putting off what one wants now, for what they may want in the future. They will end up having to weigh out the options of speeding up elixir collectors or building of defenses with gems. However the gems are the most important commodity. This again, opens the door to some great conversations about priorities and instant gratification.

4. History - This is a great app and game to use to discuss medieval times. While reading Beowulf, we were able to make a tie in to the importance of the Town Hall being in the center of the community. We discussed what would happen in the event that the town hall is destroyed and why Grendl attacked the townhall specifically. It could also be used to discuss the way we as a society create our own cities and how it depicts our society's values.

Kids love me!
5. Symbolism and Deep/Close Reading of Visual Texts - Common Core is making a strong push for visual literacy as it is estimated that our students are surrounded by 90% visual language. Being able to look at the symbolic nature of each character (Giants, Goblins, Wizards etc.), the colors of each character, the direction in which they move, and all other visual aspects, can create real world learning of those important traditional and non-traditional literacy tools.

6. Governmental Systems - As we played, each class was put into a clan together competing against other classes. I would give out prizes to each class based on certain weekly competitions. Each of these were strategically done to foster discussions about certain governments present in the stories we were reading.
For Example: For Capitalism we had a competition to see which clan could get the most money by the end of the week. We later had a discussion about how it felt to attempt to better oneself while others in ther group did not seem to care. For Communisim I took the top four clan members' trophies and the bottom four and subtracted them from the top. The clan wth the number closest to zero, won. It was interesting to see how many clans, rather than pulling people up, dropped trophies to equal out the bottom. This made for very interesting discussions on governmental systems.

7. Argumentative Writing - Where this can be done with basically anything, I had my students write a persuasive essay discussing which set of troops was the most important, weighing in on cost effectiveness, as well as power and strength, and durability. The results were much more debated than one would imagine.

8. Public Speaking - As a debate teacher I used Clash of Clans to spur on certain debates and asking them to use Clash of Clans as analogies within their debates. It made for some fun quick impromptu debates and speeches as well as required the students to think in analogous terms; another aspect of Common Core.

9. 21st Century Skills - Make your students do a tutorial video either explaining a certain attack strategy or discussing a specific base construction. This can help in terms of writing a short script, taking screen captures or screen shots, video and audio editing. It can also give them a secondary lesson on self promotion, sales, and the viral nature of the internet of they are required to post their video on YouTube. You would be surprised how much higher of a quality of work turned in when the audience is the internet and not just you as a teacher. Go figure, teenagers care more about what some random internet troll thinks than that of a college degree holding teacher.

Friends, Romans, Clashians!
10. More Writing Prompts and Rhetorical Triangle - I had my students take a screenshot of their base and then write a paper arguing why their base is sound. I required the use of each aspect of the Rhetorical Triangle (Ethos, Pathos, Logos) to defend why they made their base that particular way. This went in conjuncture with Julius Caesar as we discussed Marc Antony and Brutus' speeches and their use of rhetoric. It was a great tool to solidify their learning that we were already doing.

As with anything, gamifying a classroom is only limited to your imagination.

As I am a language teacher, my thoughts fall that direction however I would love to hear how any of you would use Clash of Clans or any other mobile based games in your classrooms.

Let me know on my Twitter page.

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