This semester I have been working on a Game Design unit with my Grade 8 Students. As with most units that you run for the first time, there were elements of success and elements of “hmmm….not sure I would do that again that way next time”.
I tend to give a lot of freedom in my classes. The expectations are clear, the support is there, but I let kids decide on what they want to do and how they want to do it. Which inevitably means some kids choose to be more flexible with their time than I would like – something they become acutely aware of as the semester draws to a close.
So, what have I learned from this experience?
It’s About the Process
I want to be more explicit in the keeping of a process journal to document learning. Many of my kids do this, but not all and not to the same level of organization. I came across this post which offers this advice that I am going to adopt:
We will begin to keep a weekly process journal of what you’ve accomplished in and out of class for the week. This is a way for you to organize your work as well as your thoughts. It could/should include:
A summary of what you accomplished in class.
A summary of what you worked on outside of class.
Any ideas or inspiration you have for your project.
Links to resources you found or notes you took.
Screenshots of what you have done.
Its All Connected
This journal should be updated at least once a week. It should be at least a paragraph (±100 words?) but probably not more than a page.
I am pretty open to kids doing this in a traditional written format, or if it is better for them, a reflective vlog might also be an option if they choose. I want it to be useful as a tool for keeping us (them?) focused and organized.
Start With The End In Mind
I want to share all the Criterion rubrics with the students at the beginning of the unit. I think it will help with organization and with the big picture thinking. I also hope it might lead to a less linear approach to the unit if the kids (and I ) can see the whole Design Cycle in front of us and can choose to add to different parts of the overall assignment as we jump from research to testing to refining to rethinking – instead of feeling like there are a few weeks for inquiring and analysing (Criterion A) and then move on.
Here is the summary rubric I shared with my kids to help them pull their assignments together at the end of our unit – something I will share at the beginning the next time I teach this class.
I want my kids to have access to people and resources beyond our classroom, our school. To that end, I have found that there are loads of people and resources in the realm of game design that I can connect with in order to improve the unit.
Kathleen Mercury has an amazing blog packed with Resources to Teach Game Design. In particular I love her approach to beginning a game unit: Introducing games through play and 10 Minute Prototyping for Game Design. But honestly, that’s just the tip of a massive iceberg. She has so much stuff there it is crazy! And her Twitter feed is just as amazing. I need a few weeks to plough through it all but I know there is some great stuff in there!
I then happened upon this tweet in December that got me thinking about a collaborative student project:
A1 I would love to connect classes in a couple different countries to design a visual-centric board game/card game that could help Ss from all cultures better develop empathy & critical thinking skills — while still being stupid degrees of fun #gobubblechat https://t.co/jwNjs6as6o— Dan Ryder (@WickedDecent) December 11, 2018
I am looking forward to seeing how this idea develops in the near future!
I sought feedback from my kids along the way during this unit and I got a lot of helpful advice for how I could do things differently and what they liked about what we were doing. Ultimately, I want to make sure we are process oriented, connected, purposeful, and playful. I will keep you posted when semester two kicks off in a few weeks!