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Subject: The Best Recess Ever: How Forbidden Island Saved My Students rss

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Ian Fraser
Canada
Hamilton
Ontario
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I've spent the last year teaching at a small private school (80 students from Years 7-12) and I frequently play board games with the high school students. They live for games, video and otherwise, and I can find no better way to connect to them than through gaming.

Our younger students, those in grades 7 and 8, are something different. They enjoy play but games seem somehow foreign to them. One day I was covering a lunchroom of grade 7 students who stayed behind during a school trip while the rest of the class was out. There were only 2 students. At first they ate their lunch quietly while periodically using their iPads. It was a gloomy day and it was raining on and off so we couldn't go outside for recess. I could feel the tension in the room. What could I do? BOARD GAME! My desk is crammed more with board games than with actual work materials and so I started rooting through the drawers looking for something relevant that we could play in 30 minutes or less:

Catan? Too long.
Resistance? Too complicated and not enough players.
Forbidden Island? AHA! Bingo!

Nothing ties people together like the idea of working as a team to defeat the bad guy (or in this case the sinking of a magical island). I brought out the tin and there was a hum of "ooooh that looks cool" from the kids. These are not academically very strong students but from the moment we opened the tin to the moment of victorious cheers when we won the game they were hooked into this intriguing puzzle and to my amazement they figured it out almost immediately. They latched onto the pattern of the sinking tiles and learned how to predict when a "Waters Rise" card was likely to come. They managed their resources and learned how to trade cards using as few actions as possible. They assessed risk and were able to determine which tiles could be written off as losses and which needed to be saved no matter what the cost. IT WAS AMAZING! They cheered at the "huzzah" moments, they wailed at the crappy ones. And the moment the game was over they both looked at me with broad grins and said, "Can we play again right now?" I wish I had a camera that day.

Best.Game.Session.Ever.
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Michael Stone
United States
Astoria
New York
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CRACK! "It looks Good! It's High! It's Long! It's over the Fence! Ladies and Gentlemen it's a HOME RUN from the second year Geek from Canada!"
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Jeff
United States
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Some games are great for teaching and learning. Don't know which, but long time ago, my Spanish teacher brought into the classroom a game called Deplomacy. Simple enough game to learn, but the catch was we had to only speak Spanish.
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Ian Fraser
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Hamilton
Ontario
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*Subtle tip of the hat as he rounds first base*
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