Denville Faculty Spotlight: Matthew Farber

DENVILLE, NJ-- This month's Denville Faculty Spotlight goes to Matthew Farber, Valleyview sixth and seventh grade social studies teacher.

Every kid dreams of having a class that is based on games. Matthew Farber brings his class educational video games while teaching at Valleyview Middle School. Farber began teaching at Valleyview in 2008. Farber has a Masters Degree in Educational Technology and he is currently a doctoral candidate for a degree in Educational Technology Leadership. His dissertation topic is how game based learning looks in the classroom.

 He heads up a club at Valleyview, Builders Club. Builders Club is the Kiwanis Club at the middle school level. He oversees projects to better the Denville community with his students.

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Farber is also an author, penning the book Gamify Your Classroom which can be purchased on Amazon. He sets his classroom up to be a classroom full of project based learning. One of the more recent projects he brought to his class was to design a card game to go along with one of the books they were reading. What is game based learning?

"Game based learning can be playing a game to learn content, game based learning can support curriculum in that sense. Game based learning can also be students having a scored debate in class. Games can also be used for presentation. There are a lot of different options," Farber said

Farber is also a blogger for Edutopia, which is George Lucas' education website. He blogs regularly on the importance of having games in the classroom. He prides himself on the academic rigor and research aspect of gaming in the classroom. He has also implemented a Minecraft game for his students to build problem solving skills that relate to his history lessons.

"I think implementing games has helped me to be a more connected educator. I have a large network. I attend a lot of conferences and use social media. I also work with other creators of games." Farber added.

Through his Minecraft game, Farber controls everything from his computer. He can make their worlds in Minecraft day or night, release monsters, or put them in survival mode. For example, one of his lessons included the students building a fort to survive in a strange land. He tied his game into a lesson on how the pilgrims may have felt surviving in the New World.

"Games defined for me, is providing a series of meaningful choices, which put students in meaningful experiences, and then we can make the connections to content."

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