Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Pokémon Go in the Classroom

by Susan Gable


I know, I know...it’s only mid-July. You’re not ready yet to be thinking about school stuff. It’s summer vacation, for Pete’s sake!

And do you know how a lot of your students are spending their summer vacation? Odds are (millions worldwide have already downloaded the app/game) they’re playing Pokémon Go.

So let’s not fight the trend, but embrace it, and use it to our advantage in the classroom. After all, keeping them interested is the biggest hurdle, right?

1     Math & Graphing
Exactly how you go about this will depend on the age of your students. For the youngest students, do a visual graph with pictures of different Pokémon characters. Each picture can represent one, five, ten...whatever scale you need....of different Pokémon. How many Eevee, Pidgeotto, Charizard, etc. did the class capture? (Make sure you cover the common and the not-so-common. Don’t know the names? Ask the kids. They’ll know.) Your graph can even become a bulletin board in your classroom.


With older students, they can collect the data and graph it using the computer. (Excel or Google Sheets are two options to use.) Ask them also to express each Pokémon data as a fraction, and as a percentage. Once you have the data, you can create class-specific word problems for math, again relating to the math concepts you’re currently studying. Do they notice any data trends? What can they conclude from the data?

2    Map Skills & Geography (Social Studies)
Do schools still teach map skills as far as north, south, etc.? Or are we dependent on our mapping apps and GPS now? In any case, you can use Pokémon Go to teach map skills as applicable. Print out a large map (again, potential bulletin board option) for the classroom, and smaller ones for students and mark locations where you’ve caught these. (Or again, use technology and Google Maps to make these.) Now teach whatever skills you need to – “Find the Pokémon location that is south of Main Street and west of the school.” “Using the map scale, determine the distance between Pokémon A and Pokémon D. You could do longitude and latitude.   “Provide the longitude and latitude where (Pokémon character name) was found.”

Do your students know where Pokémon originated? Again, your grade level and what you cover in social studies should guide your activities. Locate Japan on the map/globe/map software. What do students know about Japan? Have them research facts about Japan, history, geographic information, culture – whatever is appropriate. You could assign different groups certain topics and have them create presentations to share with the rest of the class. Have them compare/contrast Japan with their own location/culture. How does the Pokémon phenomena illustrate globalization?



       3.  Writing Across the Curricula
The last question in the paragraph above is a natural lead in to writing.  Instead of the normal “What I Did on Summer Vacation” essay, students who played the game over the summer could be asked to write about a particular Pokémon Go adventure they had over vacation. Did the game bring them closer to family and friends? How?

Write about the pros/cons of this game. Make a T-chart to demonstrate.

Make a Pokémon Word map.  

Write a story about a Pokémon character.

What are the economic implications of this game?

What are the health implications of this and other augmented reality games? Discuss the pluses and the minuses.

What are the privacy and safety concerns of this game?

Create an idea for your own augmented reality game.

Find a current events article about Pokémon. Write a summary of the article. Practice note-taking from the article.

In the end, the ability to make use of this captivating game is limited only by your imagination. Don’t let this opportunity pass by in your classroom – when it comes to student attention...you gotta catch them all!

Share your ideas with us!




Susan Gable is the Director of Educational Curriculum at izzit.org. She holds a BA in Psychology from Douglas College/Rutgers University and is a certified elementary teacher in 3 states, with ten years of classroom experience. She’s a multi-published, award-winning author who also teaches writing workshops.