Winner’s Wii World
Longfellow Elementary School, Columbia, MD
MS, School Library Media, McDaniel College, Westminster, MD, 2009; BS, Elementary Education, Towson University, MD, 2005
Maryland Outstanding User of Technology Educator, 2012, Maryland Society for Educational Technology
Photo by Larry Gates
“His use of console games, like the Nintendo Wii, as both programmatic and instructional tool is almost legendary,” says nominator Jennifer LaGarde about Matthew Winner, elementary school teacher librarian, game creator, and a leader of the edu-gaming dialog. Whether it’s through his Busy Librarian blog, a Wii Learning site, a gaming lit–focused Level Up Book Club for teachers and librarians (run with LaGarde, a 2012 LJ Mover & Shaker), or Twitter, Winner is enlightening educators with both his endless enthusiasm and his shared lesson plans. Educators who’ve adopted his ideas have seen “huge gains in student achievement that simply would not have happened” otherwise, says LaGarde.
“I started seeing all of these connections to Common Core Math Standards when playing WiiSports, WiiSports Resort, and Wii Fit,” says Winner, who was named Maryland’s Outstanding User of Technology Educator in 2012. He used DonorsChoose.org to earn two Wiis for his school, and since then he has been inventing game-devised math contests linked to the common core. Many will be in a book he’s working on (with Meghan Hearn; ISTE, expected in October 2013).
Winner was a classroom teacher before earning a degree in School Library Media. That makes him equally effective both with students and in his collaborations with teachers and other librarians.
With the Level Up Book Club, an online learning community that draws librarians, teachers, and other educators, Winner and LaGarde used a gaming model to create a reading group “centered around gamification that actually functioned through gamification practices,” says Winner. Titles have included James Paul Gee’s What Video Games Have To Teach Us About Learning and Literacy and Tom Bissell’s Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter. After Hurricane Sandy, the book club launched an online campaign, Games4Good, to benefit victims. It raised over $1,000.
Next project? “Gamifying our library media standards,” says Winner. He’s working with a fifth-grade classroom teacher to look at how gamification can play a role in the development of independent research skills and strategies. “This means breaking objectives down to the simplest skill and…building an environment where a student can explore and master the skill at his or her own pace and in his or her own unique way,” he says. “We plan to use Edmodo [a social learning network for teachers, students, and parents] to manage quests and maintain records of what each student accomplishes.” Keep following, fans.