I’ll be working on a game grant this summer

I’m not even sure that I’ve mentioned this on this blog yet (what the heck?), but I’ll be working on a grant this summer to make a board game for my classroom.

This is pretty important, but I’ve also been kind of keeping it close to the hip.

I’ve been trying, for a decade, to bring games into my classroom while simultaneously being a very active professional.  That isn’t an easy thing to pull off.  The fact is that I’ve needed a grant to really justify the time and expense to do it well.

My District has been nice enough this year to open up some “innovation” funds out of a recent grant for teachers who were interested and I expressed my interest back in January.  One offer came and went, but I didn’t give up and the idea eventually bore fruit.

I’ll be spending over three weeks this summer building a game for my Natural Science (freshman) science course.  The goal of the game will be threefold:  1) help students understand factors that contribute to global climate change, 2) support development and application of critical/ethical thought and 3) model scientific inquiry.

Designing a game for a classroom is not as easy as a lot of people think, especially gamers.  You see, I can’t compromise ANY of those three goals.  It makes design harder, but it is possible.  And I love a good challenge.  You see,  in a school, we can’t allow the mechanics of the game to take precedence over our thinking and understanding.  We can’t just create ANY fun thinking, we need to create a variety of depths of thinking.  Its harder than you might think.

So how do I plan to do that?  Well, I want the game to be cooperative.  Because I need students to be thinking together.  We don’t think in a vacuum in the real world and I don’t want my students to be isolating their minds.

I want this game to be divided into “spheres” of exploration that can be related to a human response to climate change. Examples might include public education, business, engineering, scientific research, etc.  There will be a global carbon dioxide meter that will be the ultimate goal to “manage”, and students will have to collectively decide how to focus their efforts on lowering it.  Which projects are realistic?  Which are too expensive?  Which will require too large of a cultural shift?  Is there such a thing as too large of a cultural shift?  Will they go it alone or will they combine their efforts?  Each sphere will be able to contribute something to the goals.

I haven’t gotten much further than that, and I haven’t tried to, because I want to really dedicate myself to it in my window that I’ve set aside in late June and early July.  Stay tuned!

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