By Ken Stoflet, Marketing Communications Specialist
Last night, I was walking along a lake near my house, my eyes intently shifting between the path I was on and my iPhone. Normally, I’d be getting ready for bed, but I was looking for Pokémon and there was a Psyduck nearby. Not only was he one of my favorite Pokémon as a child, but I had not captured one yet. After walking around in several circles, he finally popped up on my screen and I captured him. I was thrilled to say the least. The neighbors were not.
Pokémon Go, the game that has everyone walking around and stopping at random locations, has more than 21 million players worldwide, myself included. It has players everywhere walking, biking, and driving all over to capture rare and unique Pokémon. In fact, one my coworkers in Madison, WI saw a sign above the highway that read, “Drive now. Pokémon later.” The Pokémon Go craze is real.
As a child, I played the classic Pokémon games on my Game Boy Color. I’d battle and trade Pokémon with my friends on the bus. I also collected the trading cards and cherished my holographic Venusaur and Charizard cards. Needless to say, I was wrapped in the Pokémon craze. And now, nearly 15 years later, I’m wrapped up in it again. Although it may not be completely evident right away, there are distinct ways that a game like Pokémon Go can impact a child’s learning.
Much like joining teams in Pokémon Go, learning is a team effort. (Team Valor, anyone?) Educators support students throughout their academic journey with the ultimate goal of preparing them for college, career, and life. The ups and downs of learning are all experienced together. In Pokémon Go, players can join others on the same team and take over gyms together. They encourage one another, work together to find new Pokémon, and experience victory and defeat as a team. Connect the concept of teams in Pokémon Go back to your classroom by letting students know what it means to be a team player and remind them that everyone plays a part.
Pokémon Go is great because it encourages students to explore their hometown. Take advantage of that and use it as an opportunity to explain the significance of local landmarks. While students are trying to figure out what direction to go to find certain Pokémon, help them with logical reasoning. If there’s a water Pokémon nearby, it must be east of where we are now, toward the river. Oh, that Pokémon is common in grasslands. It might be northeast near the field. Not only do students learn a thing or two about the geography near them, but it also helps them learn directions.
Pokémon are tough to catch. The higher the level, the more Poké balls are often needed. Only with practice, does it become easier. The same holds true with reading and math. The sheer joy of nostalgia Pokémon Go offers is similar to the joy students experience when they understand something new for the first time. When a student comprehends something they’ve read or they finally understand a challenging math equation, they experience the joy (and addictiveness) of learning. And just like capturing a Pokémon, that knowledge they’ve finally mastered aids them in their academic journey. Remind students that it takes time to become better at something and compare it to the effort it takes to capture and level up a Pokémon.
After capturing my Psyduck last night, I’m still on the hunt to catch more Pokémon. Like the game, a student’s educational journey is the same, it’s never over. It may change or evolve, but always continues. Students grow older, learn more and more, but will always continue to try to make sense of our world and the mysteries behind it.
Are your students wrapped up in the Pokémon craze as well? Renaissance Accelerated Reader 360® has a ton of Pokémon books. See the complete list here.