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Subject: Teacher using Settlers in classroom - opinion rss

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Brian Zollinhofer
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I just wanted to hear some opinions on what I'm about to do with my class. I have a little time left at the end of the year, and I want to teach my students Settlers. I teach about 30 kids at a time, so I would need 8 sets of the game. Seeing as I'm a teacher, and don't have $300 (or so) to spend on a class set of Settlers, I've created a standard board on the computer (the pieces can't be rearranged) as well as development cards. I've bought Popsicle sticks and have colored them appropriately to use instead of resource cards (hey, you have to think outside the box as a teacher). I've printed out the board and the dev. cards. We'll go into the social aspect of game playing, as well as chance, probability, supply and demand, yada yada yada...

The questions are:

1. Do you see anything immoral about this?

2. Could I post these materials that I have created (pdfs) for other teachers to download and use to teach their classes? I would ask that the teacher already own the game. I also wouldn't receive any money from these materials.

My thinking is that I'll be exposing these students to SoC (many of who may never be exposed to this type of game). It will be interesting to find out, but I would assume that a minimum of 10% of my students will end up purchasing the game. That is 15 copies that may not have been sold to these students.

Thoughts? Comments?
 
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Todd McCorkle
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I don't know what to think about the original questions. Ultimately, I believe the safest path would be to contact mayfair games and get their approval.

I would suggest bringing in an actual copy of the game too. This way the kids know what to look for in the store and appreciate the difference between the real thing and homemade parts. Possibly use it as a reward. Best sportsman gets to play on the real game or whatever.
 
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Chris Tandlmayer
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I see nothing immoral about it--you're basically demoing a game for your students. I don't know about the legal side of it. I wish one of my teachers had taught the class Settlers!
 
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Matthew Jones
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Being a teacher and not a lawyer myself, and moving into a self-contained room next year where I can play more games with one set of kids, I have an interest in this question too.

Morally, I personally don't see anything wrong with this.

Legally, the posting of it might be problematic, simply because you, as an agent of your school district, are providing people with copyrighted materials or pieces from a game. Might be a thin line. I think if you were to stick with your own sets, probably no one is going to bother you. Especially if you say it's based on Catan.

It's like the photocopying of texts, workbooks, and materials and passing it on to a colleague to do the same. Yeah, you aren't supposed to do it, but between my mother's district and my own, I haven't met a fellow teacher that didn't have one misappropriated item in their room. The teacher force in America would probably drop by 50-80% if they actually prosecuted. Then W would REALLY be in a pickle 'cause there'd be a whole MESS a children left behind.

Have you considered a simple emailing the company and asking for permission? List your reasons for wanting to play the game, explain your thoughts about increased sales, demoing the game, make a case for yourself. I agree with the poster above, just took longer to type. You never know what might happen...

This is one of those questions that if you just did it odds are not a single person would care or complain, but is it worth your job if they did...?

 
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James Davis
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why dont you talk to mayfair games, maybe they will provide you with some games for free. who knows, but it cant hurt to talk to them.

 
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Mendon Dornbrook
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There are a great deal of protections for educators, though this may not be one of them. Just a note, you could make 8 different preset boards so that the kids can switch them up a little bit so that it creates a randomizing effect.
 
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Wilson Yeo
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Here's a good site on copyright and fair use for teachers:

http://home.earthlink.net/~cnew/research.htm

Under US copyright law, reproduction of copyrighted works is permissible under fair use for educational purposes with some restrictions, like making only 1 copy, not reusing it, copying a limited amount from the original etc.

The guidelines in the chart on the above site should help you make a decision.

The law on fair use is pretty vague, and from what I've learnt in my media law class, it's always better to err on the safe side and seek permission from the copyright holders, even if IMHO, it's highly unlikely Mayfair would spend time and lawyer's fees to sue you for breaching their copyrights. (I think they have better things to do.. like making MORE games )

The bigger worry may also be running afoul of your school authority's policies on copyrighted material.

Next, I'd rant and rave on how copyright law is broken globally but I'd spare you.
 
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Russ Williams
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wafflestomper wrote:
1. Do you see anything immoral about this?


Haha, I see from the replies you were talking about the morality of making your own set. When I first read this, I thought you meant the morality of using class time to play boardgames, and I was going to say it depended on what the class was about... For a class about math, geography, psychology, culture, economics, history, etc, sure. For, e.g., a music class, well, maybe not.
 
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Matthew Jones
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russ wrote:
wafflestomper wrote:
1. Do you see anything immoral about this?


Haha, I see from the replies you were talking about the morality of making your own set. When I first read this, I thought you meant the morality of using class time to play boardgames, and I was going to say it depended on what the class was about... For a class about math, geography, psychology, culture, economics, history, etc, sure. For, e.g., a music class, well, maybe not.


Come on, every music teacher I've had in school was up for a quick game of pin the dotted-quarter-rest on the music staff. Whoever gets it closest to B-flat gets to go to lunch early...
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Matthew Jones
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yes yes I know there is no B-flat on a music staff, don't bother me with the details...
 
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Ed
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I think distributing your lesson plan is fine. Distributing materials to other teachers so they can make their own copies of Settlers is going too far.
 
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SAKURA in KYOTO 2018 Back to Kansai
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Brian,

This game may already exist: Simply Catan

I think that if you can encourage the kids to learn from the game, and you show them the benefits of getting their own copy (the tiles make the game varied compared to the fixed board and so on), and you keep the number of copies you make limited and controlled, then any publisher would be grateful of your support.

How about, you make your 8 sets. Then, as time and money allows, you keep buying a new base set and retiring one of your home-made versions (bin it!). It may take a few years, but you'd be doing the right thing. Pretty soon, the kids will want the real sets, not the copies, and you might get proper funding. Or you might try a local store and see if you can get a trade price or a heavy discount, or sponsorship.

Maybe you could have a small set of questions the kids can think about at the end of the game. Why did you win/lose this time? What would you do differently? Why is the thief activated on a 7, not another number? If you cold add/remove a rule, what would you do? Could you give the game a whole new theme, but keep it the same? How would you market this game in America?

There are lots of ways kids could gain from this. The maths kids would get the probablility, the lawyers would change the rules, the entreprenuers would want to market it, the artists would want to design the graphics.

Good luck!
Cheers,
jon.
 
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Darren M
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I'm not sure about legal issues or copyright laws... but from a moral point of view... there's far worse things to be doing with kids in class than teaching them a fun and semi-educational boardgame like Settlers.

I'd agree with others that a quick email or two to Mayfair (or Teuber himself) explaining what you would like to do would be a prudent thing to do... if only to appease a possible guilty conscience for making multiple copies.

Showing kids that there are more ways to entertain themselves other than playing craptastic videogames for hours on end or vegging out on the trash being constantly fed into their minds on TV has to be a positive concept.

Stepping up and preaching to the choir for a minute... but I really do think boardgames open up minds to new ideas and new ways of thinking about things and is truly a great socializing tool to get kids (and adults) together to enjoy a common interest. I say good on you and good luck with the project.

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Stefanie Kethers
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You could just use the paper & pencil version of Settlers - see
http://www.info.catan.de/paper_and_pencil.html (in German)
and in particular
http://www.info.catan.de/download/?PPCatan_Regel-Material.pd... (also in German). That should sort out any legal issues, given that this version of Settlers is freely available.




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Stefanie Kethers
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More info & English rules are here (where else ):

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/19008
 
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Andrew Norris
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I am also a teacher and I have used Settlers in the classroom. However I took a different route. I made a whiteboard version out of scrapbook paper for the hexes and construction paper for the pieces. I bribed the librarian to laminate it all, which was a chore, but a few brownies make the world go round. Then I put the kids in six groups. One person for the group would come up and roll the dice. I would put the resources out on a piece of paper that matched their color so I wouldn't have to run around the room passing out resources. To trade the groups would have to send the resources to "market" in the front of the room and then could only trade with the active player. Put all the pieces on fridge magnets and it worked like a charm.

Since I teach high school resetting it for each class got a little hectic, but it was well worth it. Normally I would never put people in groups for a game of settlers, but in this instance it wroked because everyone in the class seemed to get pretty animated about the trades. I was in a block schedule school so we had 90 minutes per class, but fun was had by all.

One copy for the class to see on the whiteboard may alleviate some of your misgivings about copying the game. But I don't think that Mayfair would have a problem wiht you using a homemade set for a classroom. Plus many of the students who played actually went out and bought a copy for themselves or their families. Sounds like you could be doing some good marketing for them.
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Jae
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wylsonated wrote:
Next, I'd rant and rave on how copyright law is broken globally but I'd spare you.


That's how the people in power want you to see the issue.
Laws are mostly intended to keep peace by abiding by a set of guidelines that the larger portion of the population agrees to be "good behavior". If such a large majority is "breaking the law", law makers should consider whether or not the law is appropriate since that "majority" considers the law to be unfair and/or unnecessary.

I don't know about the global temperature on this, but in the United States, (s)he who has the most money talks the loudest. This invariably gives teachers mouse voices compared to the lions.
 
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SAKURA in KYOTO 2018 Back to Kansai
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Guido Teuber is active on the geek:
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/user/guidoteuber

You can drop him a geekmail message. He's Klaus' son and works/acts for Catan gmbh/Mayfair. I'm sure you'll get a favourable response.
 
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Melissa
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Mariana wrote:
You could just use the paper & pencil version of Settlers - see
http://www.info.catan.de/paper_and_pencil.html (in German)
and in particular
http://www.info.catan.de/download/?PPCatan_Regel-Material.pd... (also in German). That should sort out any legal issues, given that this version of Settlers is freely available.


Just echoing this suggestion, as this version seems tailor-made for what you want to do, without getting into copyright infringement issues.

It is also a slightly simplified version of the game, so should be easier to teach to a group.
 
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Stephen Harkleroad
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Bagherra wrote:
I don't know about the global temperature on this, but in the United States, (s)he who has the most money talks the loudest. This invariably gives teachers mouse voices compared to the lions.


Yes, the teachers' unions pale in comparison to that global behemoth known as the Designer Games Lobby!
 
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Wilson Yeo
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JAE wrote:
If such a large majority is "breaking the law", law makers should consider whether or not the law is appropriate since that "majority" considers the law to be unfair and/or unnecessary.


That's one reason why it's broken. People want to copy, and there's little reason why they shouldn't be allowed to, since laws are made for the people's benefit/good.

Laws are made by people. Freedom to copy is traded for a vibrant public domain. People who make laws are "persuaded" by the monied corporations intent on keeping their works out of the public domain. Laws in contravention of a vibrant public domain are passed. Your freedom has been traded for nothing in return.

Ethics-wise, I really don't see any problem with using material for teaching purposes. The intangible good that arises IMHO is definitely much more than the tangible monetary loss incurred.
 
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Stephen Harkleroad
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wylsonated wrote:
JAE wrote:
If such a large majority is "breaking the law", law makers should consider whether or not the law is appropriate since that "majority" considers the law to be unfair and/or unnecessary.


That's one reason why it's broken. People want to copy, and there's little reason why they shouldn't be allowed to, since laws are made for the people's benefit/good.

Laws are made by people. Freedom to copy is traded for a vibrant public domain. People who make laws are "persuaded" by the monied corporations intent on keeping their works out of the public domain. Laws in contravention of a vibrant public domain are passed. Your freedom has been traded for nothing in return.


Or, theft.
 
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Got two game tables and a microphone
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The creating of games in this manner is perfectly acceptable, just as long as the use of the game fits into the lesson plan and age range appropriately. Yes, you could post the materials and lesson plans. I'd have to look up some good sites though...
 
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Brian Zollinhofer
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Wow. I was expecting a response or two. 25 is nice...

I think most of us would agree. I email Mayfair about a week or two ago (am waiting to hear something back), but I like the idea of contacting Guido Teuber. I definitely think some classrooms could be livened up a bit with some games, especially when they exactly correlate with something you are trying to teach. Why is a 6 space better than a 3 space? Why did 8 only get rolled twice that game? How could you make the theoretical probability and the experimental probability match a bit more closely? There are a lot of great questions.

I'll definitely hit up a few of the game stores around town (I can only think of one that carries Settlers) and see what they say. If any of you own game stores and feel like helping out a poor teacher... Or better yet, if you have an old copy and need a good excuse to get a new copy...
 
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Brian Zollinhofer
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EYE of NiGHT wrote:
Brian,

This game may already exist: Simply Catan


I'm not worried about my students grasping the ideas behind the original, I just don't have enough money to buy them all.
 
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