What is game-based learning? 

Game-based learning is an approach to meeting students where they are. It means using video games — something many teens already engage with on their own time — as a primary text or central shared experience. Game-based learning does not mean that the game does the teaching; rather, the game offers an opportunity for teachers and students to share an emotionally impactful experience. From there, teachers use their skills to guide students in applying the themes from the game to their real lives and meeting the learning objectives of the unit. 

In which classes do educators use iThrive Curriculum: Sam's Journey?

Sam's Journey is ideal for English Language Arts courses and also can be used in other humanities courses including media literacy and elective courses (e.g., video games and storytelling) at the high school level.

For which grades was iThrive Curriculum: Sam's Journey created?

Sam's Journey was developed for 11th and 12th grade. The game around which the unit was built, A Normal Lost Phone, raises important and mature themes around identity that are very relevant to high school students. We recommend assessing the content for its fit with your particular students and learning environment. More specific information about the game's content is available in the curriculum and from Common Sense Media

What core standards does iThrive Curriculum: Sam's Journey meet?

The unit meets Common Core ELA standards for high school in the areas of Reading: Informational Text; Reading: Literature; Speaking & Listening; and Writing. Specific standards covered are included in the curriculum appendix and in each lesson plan. The unit also meets social and emotional learning (SEL) learning objectives with a primary focus on building students' self-awareness and autonomy through reflection and expression around how students represent their identities, a key developmental step of adolescence. 

What are the system requirements for using iThrive Curriculum: Sam's Journey?

The text around which the unit is built, A Normal Lost Phone, can be accessed via Apple and Android phones or tablets, the Nintendo Switch, or a PC. If you're using a PC, the minimum and recommended specs are listed on Steam's website under "System Requirements".

How does the classroom need to be set up?

The unit can be taught in person or virtually and the curriculum offers tips for success with both setups. 

For this concise unit, we recommend that students play the game individually as homework using their own phones (or tablets or consoles), so you won't need to have special equipment for gameplay. You may find implementation is smoothest with an internet connection and 1:1 devices for assignments, but assignments can be printed out instead if needed. Do be prepared to configure the classroom for both whole-class and small-group interactions as some assignments are done in small groups. 

If you're teaching iThrive Curriculum: Sam's Journey virtually, it is recommended that you have access to robust virtual tools (like the free or paid version of Zoom) for remote connection, and that you make use of chat and breakout room functions to allow students to participate in both verbal and non-verbal ways, and in whole- and small-group configurations. 

Is the curriculum customizable?

Yes. For ease of adoption, we offer complete lesson plans, assignments, and assessments, but we encourage teachers to regard these as suggestions and to make any modifications that will bring the unit more in line with the needs and interests of their unique students. 

What does the curriculum cost?

The curriculum itself is free to use. To teach iThrive Curriculum: Sam's Journey, you will need copies of A Normal Lost Phone (about $2-3 each) for yourself and each student, since gameplay is done individually as homework.

How long does the unit take to teach? 

Sam's Journey can be delivered in 3, 45-minute class sessions. Students will play A Normal Lost Phone outside of class time, which takes 1.5-2 hours. 

Can I use this if I work at a youth-serving organization but not a school?

Yes! As long as you have teens to work with, and those teens have phones or other devices that can run A Normal Lost Phone, iThrive Curriculum: Sam's Journey offers a fantastic way to connect around an engaging game and issues that matter to teens. You might consider devoting more time to discussion and less time to narrative analysis if you're in an informal learning setting.