Land of Venn: Numeric Storms Teaches Numeracy (Review)

Land of Venn: Numeric Storms is a game app for early numeracy from iMagine Machine, a studio for learning software.

If you’re not familiar with numeracy, it’s essentially the math version of literacy: not a memorization of number-related information, but a comfort with numbers and a fluent approach to solving problems with numbers. Numeracy is key to the common core approach to teaching math to children. I am completely on board with the concept of numeracy and excited to see it explored through gameplay.

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Kriegsspiel: the Glory and the Pain of Teamwork

Kriegsspiel is a war game with a pedigree. Developed by the Prussian military in the 19th century to train officers, it offers a gameplay experience unlike anything I’ve had so far.

William and I played kriegsspiel at LA’s Strategicon over the long weekend. The game lasted about eight hours — and they flew by.

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Battle lines being drawn as the Confederates prepare to take Tappahannock

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Are We Overlooking Paper Games?

As an educator, I’ve sometimes had the feeling that technology in school was an end in itself rather than a means to better learning experiences. Perhaps you’ve been there, too.

Technology absolutely has its place in learning. A big place, even, especially when it comes to digital games. But I’ve had two occasions this week to think about the place of games that don’t require modern technology, and to consider that they might be undervalued in the exploding field of educational gaming.

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Choose Better Games: 3 Questions to Ask Before You Play

You’re thinking about using a game in your program.

You’ve probably already evaluated that game based on its coverage of the material students need to learn. That is, after all, why we want games in our classrooms – because they engage students with material that otherwise might not seem so accessible.

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Age-old questions.

But don’t stop there – games are more than gamified learning content. To get the most out of using games in your program, push your evaluation further with these three questions, designed to probe a game’s potential for giving players a deeper, more engaging learning experience.

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Beyond Jeopardy: 3 Adaptable Games that Make Students Think

The Two Problems with Jeopardy

I have played many a Jeopardy-style quiz game in class. And with good reason: quiz games adapt to many topics, and they stir up students’ competitive spirit, making for an easy kind of engagement.

1. But if I’m honest about it, I have to admit that with this kind of game, it is most often the strongest students who invest and engage the most. Many games result in winners and losers, but one of the benefits of using games in class is that they can give middling or even poor students a chance to be victorious – something quiz games rarely do.

Llama looking at question mark

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Sans-Papiers, the Immigration Game

Sans-Papiers is a role-playing game about being an undocumented immigrant in France. French president François Hollande officially inaugurated the Musée de l’histoire de l’immigration last December, and there’s been a mix of stories about immigrants in the French news lately: in March, a young undocumented Albanian man won the prestigious “best apprentice in France” medal; France is taking some serious criticism for its treatment of Roma people; and of course, the far-right nationalist party known as the National Front has gained a surprising, or alarming, amount of political ground over the past year. There have also been a staggering number of deaths at sea of immigrant hopefuls trying to cross the Mediterranean in small, fragile crafts.

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Left: “With this pair, too, I’m still seeing a lot of Blacks and Arabs.” Right: “We may need to operate.”

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Modular Game Design: EU v. Russia, Part II

As promised, today the students had a last game of EU v. Russia, which one of the them joyously re-baptized “Pride and Presidents.” Two games ran simultaneously (A and B, 6 students and 7 students), and took just about the whole 50-minute period, although I did have to start timing Russia A, who had adopted a stalling tactic.

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Both games were close, but Russia squeaked by for the win in each case. That makes Russia undefeated in the eight games we’ve played over four sessions. Although some games have come down to a single victory point’s difference in the final score, Russia’s clear in-game advantage is something I’ve been working to balance out – to an extent – for several weeks.

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Modular Game Design: EU v. Russia, Part I

For the past few weeks, the 15 students in my current events French class have been playing a game designed to model a struggle between Russia and the European Union to gain or retain influence over Europe’s outlying countries. What with Russia’s presence in the Ukraine since early 2014 and fears about Greece abandoning the euro and somehow aligning with Russia, the game provides a way for us to explore how fears and projections of spreading Russian influence might play out.

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