Classroom game writing

I’m deep into the writing process of a classroom game that I have a grant to develop.

The purpose of the game is twofold:  1) to encourage students to do rich thinking about course ideas: in this case global climate change and 2) to have fun thinking.  In the past, I’ve done a global climate change jigsaw where students each learn about an aspect of the data that supports climate change and then teach their classmates.  That’s all well and good, but the problem with it was that it was a lot of info to sort through and kids got mental fatigue pretty quickly.  The benefit of the game will be that I’ll be able to accomplish richer thinking in a varied, fast paced environment.

I’ve already written a huge part of the mechanics.  This is a cooperative game where each student assumes a role (government, public, industry, research and education) and make decisions about how they will cooperatively tackle problems.  The main focus of the game is the carbon dioxide meter, which starts at current global carbon dioxide levels.  The goal of the game is to prevent the CO2 (how the heck can there be no subscript feature on WP?  Boo!) from reaching critical levels and, ideally, decrease it.  There are also three more meters:  a source meter, a sink meter, and a “level of concern” meter that tracks everyone’s willingness to help.

Every round, players will start with “disaster” cards which represent challenges to life on Earth due to climate change.  These will have a negative effect on the managed variables.  Players can earn “action points” to spend on solutions to climate change problems.  To earn these, they will be presented with logical and ethical dilemmas on “Resource cards” and discuss them.  Depending upon how rich their ideas and discussion are, they earn action points.  Yes, there is self-management to prevent students from cheating here.  Action points can then be spent to work on choices from a pool of goals and the more individual roles contribute to a goal, the higher the rewards and potentially risks.  Players won’t know the exact rewards for a goal, but they will know whether the reward is “low”, “medium”, “high” or “unknown”.  Some goals take a single game round to complete and some take three.  There are ten total rounds to the game.

The game ends at any time if the CO2 concentration rises about 450.  This is a loss.  A partial victory is a team that keeps it below 450.  A complete victory is one in which the CO2 level falls below the starting value of 401! (current CO2 levels)

The target audience is ninth and tenth graders and the beauty of the game is that the framework could be adapted to any content area.  There is still a lot of writing to do, but I thought I’d post about my initial work!


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