Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Why the board games?

I'm in charge of @kidsedchatnz for week 6 T3. My class had been wanting to talk about gaming, minecraft and other "fun" activities for a while, so as a class we co-constructed a list of questions and a few tasks for more of a flipped lesson. The #Edchatnz conference had really motivated me to pursue gaming as I blogged about here, so this was an opportunity to investigate, get student voice and put some energy into the "What, How and Why" of gaming.

Late last week we got out the post-its and shared what learning we thought we could get from playing games (for our task this was defined as board, dice and electronic games but did not include PE/Fitness games). There were lots of ideas, but generally they were broad ideas of Maths, Reading, Writing, Science or ideas around the theme of cooperation/teamwork, some children did recognise that survival, strategic thinking, cyber safety and taking risks could all be learned through gaming of different formats, the latter ideas were rather enlightening for a teacher about to embark on a week of gaming in the classroom.

This week I took Risk, Monopoly and Yahtzee into the class, we already had Scrabble, Once Upon A Time and ipads with Minecraft on them. I must admit that the Why is rather tenuous. They are embarking in authentic language experience that they can then use within a Kidsedchatnz topic where their literacy skills will be engaged. They've supplemented this with a small piece of writing before yesterday's game session on what they expected to learn from the games.

It was hardly a surprise that the kids engaged in the games, Risk, Monopoly and Minecraft being the favourites. There was plenty of amazing communication, teamwork and the odd dispute!

Today, in our second session, I asked them to self-monitor the Key Competencies using a simple tally chart. As they engaged in the games there was a notable shift in the discussion and atmosphere. While the competition was still evident, there was more assistance with rules as children tried to help each other out, take more care of their role in the game and generally try to be better participants. As I tweeted a couple of quick reflections/photos I was prompted by a colleague to look deeper.

Mark is right, we'd discussed with @Gingamusings and many others at her gaming session that the "Why" needs to be uppermost in a teachers mind or I'm just providing the kids with an excuse to muck around.

We're studying the geography of NZ at present and that is shifting this week to Election 2014.

Monopoly contains obvious links to maths and oral language. Here are some possible ways to build on this in other areas of the curriculum in different year levels:

  • Social Studies: Game scenarios that might include rich vs poor; who is in charge of the money; equity & fairness; financial literacy; investigating the significance of featured places to NZers; locating the places on maps; identifying how these places may be chosen or even what a future edition might include. The selection of the NZ edition featured a lengthy voting period before the eventual choice of Pukekura Park in the "Mayfair" position. I did locate two websites that used monopoly in a rigged format to explore social inequities in the US, the second is certainly quite well thought out.
  • Literacy: as hotels/houses built investigating the roles of people involved and their respective feelings. 

Risk also has its own unique set of maths links but probably can be adopted further to assist in the teaching of probability, ratios & proportions as well as the key competency & oral language links that any game necessitates. With its obvious 'conquer the world' theme there are many links to politics and power also. Extra ideas could include:

  • Social Studies: Risk could be manipulated to investigate/replicate/stimulate ideas on many AO's from the social studies curriculum,  and when combined with The Arts or Literacy many differing viewpoints could be explored. This could be about about cultural change, how the past is recorded/remembered, leadership, access to resources, or the cause and effect for different events.

I'm sure there are many more ways that these two games could be adapted or integrated into different aspects of the NZC and there are always going to be the skills and values that come out of participating in games within the classroom. Although the curriculum links are not as strong in this instance, I've been impressed by the children's engagement and believe that the use of both games for a more deliberate curriculum choice would be advantageous. Mark's respectful questioning was justified and prompted some useful reflection and it does make me wonder what other resources or uses teachers have for these or other games.

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