support materials with a clear
classroom integration. Correlated lesson plans
and a professional
development video helped me tie
the pieces together. A robust administrator tool allows you to organize
class lists, monitor student progress,
generate class overviews, and access
detailed information on individual
students’ work on specific puzzles.
Lure of the Labyrinth
Several years ago, my school principal asked me to partici- pate in a new online learning
project. Maryland Public Television
(MPT) was seeking teachers to work
with their education department to
learn and test a cutting-edge digital
math game in the classroom.
A bit skeptical and curious, I joined
the project and spent several years immersed in the Lure of the Labyrinth,
a highly interactive math game for
middle school teachers and students.
MPT, MIT Education Arcade, and
FableVision developed Labyrinth with
math and gaming experts to help students build critical pre-algebra skills
using a flexible format that nurtures
different learning styles. Labyrinth is
aligned to national education standards, free, and available online.
Labyrinth unfolds in witty, graphic-novel style, leading players into an
underground factory inhabited by
good-humored monsters. Players
embark on a rescue mission working
through multilevel puzzles and problems to deepen their understanding
of proportions, fractions and ratios,
variables and equations, and number
Labyrinth has three distinct content
wings, each containing three puzzles
of varying difficulty. Each puzzle has
three levels, and students must solve
each puzzle three times before advancing to the next level.
set the stage for suc-
cess. Let them know
there is no pressure
and tell them to
ment, and have
fun. It doesn’t
matter if they
solve the puzzles
right away, as
they will gain use-
ful skills and strategies along the way.
As teachers, we want to jump in
and help students immediately. Be
the guide on the side, not the sage
on the stage. Encourage open-ended
conversations about strategies to help
them think like mathematicians. Before you know it, your students will be
immersed in a captivating adventure,
using critical-thinking and problem-solving skills to extend and deepen
Learn the Game
To learn a game, students usually dive
right in and play. Learning happens
through trial and error, and a good
educational game invites players to
take risks, explore, and solve problems. But sometimes teachers need a
little extra help, so Labyrinth provides
By John-Paul Bennett
Prepare for Classroom Integration
When you can connect the content
in a game to what you teach in class,
you have a useful teaching tool. This
is where it all came together for me. I
could substitute a typical lesson plan
with a puzzle from the game.
When preparing to bring a game into
your classroom, do your homework.
Check with your technology coordinator to ensure your computers meet the
requirements for the game, and test the
game in your classroom or lab before
you use it with your students.
Think about how you want to use
the game and how much time you
want to spend on a puzzle or topic.
Players can use Labyrinth in game-play mode or puzzle-play mode.
Game play is best used over longer
periods of time and allows for online
communication between students,
whereas puzzle play is designed to
teach a particular concept.
What I Learned
When you teach with Labyrinth, you
will break new ground with a tech-nology-rich game that will change the
way your students look at math. Labyrinth nurtures a variety of learning
styles and provides an alternative tool
Set Up Your Classroom
Take a few minutes before class
to set up classroom lists and give
your students user names and
passwords. As the buzz is building
and students become eager to play,