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Subject: Teacher using Settlers in classroom - opinion rss

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True Blue Jon
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Neontek wrote:
(Please note; this video is not for Christians and supporters of neoconservatives. Your naive fluor-poisoned minds will not comprehend.)

Please note: I'm a Christian and I agreed with this video 100%.
 
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Ryan Sturm
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I have a lot to say about this discussion. I am a fifth grade teacher who uses games as hooks and as tools to teach important concepts in Social Studies and other subjects. I found Tobias' comments about games not having educational value and about the educators that use them offensive and flat-out untrue. I say this as an educator who has implemented games into his classroom and seen amazing results.

For example, In a unit I designed using a "catan-like" system of resources, groups of students ran their own colony, specifically a New England Colony in the mid 1700's. They had to develop the colony by aquiring and trading resources to purchase different colonial buildings. Then they were forced to react to historical situations. Such as interacting with the native people and reacting to increasing resource taxes imposed on them from their English King. Which eventually led to our own revolutionary war. With a few modifications the game Settlers of Catan was a fantastic tool in teaching students about colonization, the American Revolution and basic economics.

Bottom Line: After experiencing this unit one of my fifth graders said, and I quote, "It's like instead of just reading about history we get to actually experience it."

I also have a designed a Lewis and Clark unit, which functions almost like a role-playing game in which students play the role of a member of the Corps of Discovery.

Is this the dumbed down education you are referring to?

Yes, I could just explain important historical concepts to them, but personally I think I prefer my way, even if I am " just using this boardgame stuff as an excuse to play games " yuk

What sends American Education "down the drain" as you say, are uncreative, uninspired teachers, who teach Chapter-by-Chapter monotonous prepackaged lessons which teach our children that Reading, Writing, Social Studies, Science and Math are all dreadfully boring.

Engaging students in complex authentic situations will teach more and at a deeper level then reading a textbook or listening to a lecture ever will.

(steps off soapbox)

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Ryan Sturm
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Now in response to Brian,

I agree with a previous poster in that I have played the game in groups as a whole class and students got the idea pretty well. They especially enjoyed it after playing my "catan-like" unit, because they had a better idea of the trading aspect of the game. But playing it with the class is a good one shot deal.

But if you can get the materials, I think teaching students the game in playing as individuals is even better, keeping in mind you will have to play 2-4 times for students really to start to get into it.

One thing people cannot ignore is the importance of the social learning that goes on in a game like this. The difference between teaching people to be good game players and teaching people to be good people is not so far apart.

We started with some ground rules when I taught games.

1. Play in a way to insure that everyone has fun
2. Play to win
(The balance of these two first rules is quite a difficult task for many. We have all seen it in adults, in going to far one way or the other.)
3. Play according to the rules of the game
4. Be respectful of the game materials* (*simply for the sake of being able to keep materials in good shape for future years)

Then in discussion after playing the games we could reflect on, "How well they thought they played the games" not just strategically but also socially. It was then easy to reference back to whether students were following the ground rules. It usually will directly correlate to whether students enjoyed playing the games or not.

Anyways BRAVO to my fellow educators who are willing to break the mold and use games as a tool to enhance their instruction.

Some of my best advice from a college professor was, "Children don't need simple ideas, they need complex ideas presented simply." I can think of few better tools in which to do that than through the vehicles of boardgames (along with possibly drama)

But maybe I'm just a hippie.


 
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Brian Zollinhofer
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Neontek wrote:

You must admit the absurdity of this situation. I'm probably the only poster here who is still following class, and the youngest. And I'm the one who believes playing games is a slower, less informative, method of teaching. (Which is more fun, I must admit, but so is playing soccer, and you'll be able to explain them about physics if you do.) Yeah, soccer, that's a good idea. And it costs less too. You'll need just one ball.

lol. ok, you win...

Soccer? Hmmm.... How can I use math...? I love soccer (futbol - my minimal Turkish background), but getting American kids to play it is a bit tricker than Belgium students (I reckon).
 
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M D
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Since the spirit of the thread has moved from the legality/morality of copying a board game to the efficacy of using games as a teaching tool, there is one obvious question: What age and course are you teaching? You mentioned your interest in exposing them to laws of probability, but the appropriateness of SoC specifically is dependent on what you're mandated to teach. Do tell.

On another note, I'm appalled at some of the responses in this thread regarding the ability of games to teach. They seem atypically ignorant given the usual level of sophistication of the forum. Funny, just the other day I asked my 5 year old nephew if he could name the three primary and then the three secondary colors. He rattled them right off. When I asked him where he learned that; he said it was from the Leapster cartridge I bought for his birthday.
 
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Ricatoni
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There is nothing immoral here. Unethical...well...copyright infringement is always at issue in schools. Might I suggest that you look at the Travelling Edition of Settlers of Catan. It is cheaper than the standard game and plays just as well. Contacting the publisher is a recommended tactic...but making a request of your principal is another.

As a principal I know that there are certain games that align to the standards and am open to reasonable requests when teachers are piloting learning projects. I value instructional time all the way to the end of the year and so would ask some questions...

What are the Social Studies Standards that you are trying to meet?

What is your purpose in using this game to meet those standards?

What is the evidence that students have learned those standards?


I am a big believer in games as venues of learning. I would bet that if you came up with a proposal that addresses the above questions your principal...or PTA...would consider purchasing Traveller Editions for your class that would help you avoid copyright infringement issues. I know I would.

On a side note at my school unless every student is at grade level...our job is not done even after the State Tests are administered. Videos are limited on our site to being content related, and only 20 minutes with a purposeful lesson accompanying the showing. I applaud you for going down a different road and think that this could be integrated into a deep and purposeful learning project across grade levels.
 
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Brian Zollinhofer
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mgdpublic wrote:
Since the spirit of the thread has moved from the legality/morality of copying a board game to the efficacy of using games as a teaching tool, there is one obvious question: What age and course are you teaching? You mentioned your interest in exposing them to laws of probability, but the appropriateness of SoC specifically is dependent on what you're mandated to teach. Do tell.

I teach 8th grade math in a public school. We have block schedules (90ish minute classes). Our end of course tests are being given this week and next week. After the last SOL (end of course test), we will have 8 school days left to fill. As you can imagine, those can be a long 8 days.

The 2 main SOL (Standards of Learning) for the 8th grade math class (mandated by the Commonwealth of Virginia) that I will cover using SoC are:

SOL 8.11 The student will analyze problem situations, including games of chance, board games, or
grading scales, and make predictions, using knowledge of probability.

SOL 8.12 The student will make comparisons, predictions, and inferences, using information
displayed in frequency distributions; box-and-whisker plots; scattergrams; line, bar,
circle, and picture graphs; and histograms.

We will be keeping track of the numbers rolled using a frequency table, and then comparing the results as a class. If I feel up for it, we may then put that information into different types of tables and graphs and discuss how this information may (or may not) help us make decisions for the next game.

If I felt like adding another SOL, I could add this one in as well.

8.5 The student, given a whole number from 0 to 100, will identify it as a perfect square or
find the two consecutive whole numbers between which the square root lies.

It doesn't seem like it would fit with an SOL (and again, I'm stretching - which is required from time to time in the teaching profession) but if I changed the numbers on the disks to the squares, then that would help them learn those as well. To clarify: instead of having 2 - 12 on the disks, I could have 4, 9, 16, 25 ... 144. When a student rolls an 8, they would have to be able to recognize that 64 is the resource that is produced. Perhaps a penalty of incorrectly naming a resource would result in losing one resource to the student who caught the error.

I hope that answered your question. I'm sure I could stretch the game to cover more, but I can guarantee that this is covering a lot more than 90% of our teachers will be covering in the last 8 days. This also gives my students a good 3-4 classes to learn the game. I'll hook a few of them, Mayfair.

As an aside, Neontek, what does "following class" mean? Are you still in school? How old are you? Just out of curiosity. I do agree that it is funny that you hold the opinion of games in classrooms that you do if you are indeed still in school.
 
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Brian Zollinhofer
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Thanks for the advice. I think I answered a lot of your questions in the above comment (I wrote that as you submitted your comment).

I have contacted Mayfair and have been talking to them a bit (waiting to hear back at the moment) and hopefully will be able to get some actual games. They said they deal with this case by case, but they had no problem with what I did to create a class set of the game. If nothing comes of this, I'll have to approach my principal and PTA about it for the upcoming years.

 
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Gregory Wong
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I say go for it. If the tests are all done, and the grades are all in, and the kids are bouncing off the wall for the last 8 days of the school year, then do it. What's the worse that could happen? If the kids learn nothing, then hopefully, you've learned something. You simply won't repeat this experiment next year. However, if the kids do learn something, then you should write up what you did and think about improving it.
 
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Ricatoni
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Brian
Before becoming a principal I was a middle school math teacher. While probability is often a standard met in gaming I would encourage you to team with your social studies teacher and expand on those standards as well. A narrative writing piece in which the students embellish the game play into a story of settlement and progress for thier clans could be a connection to your English teachers standards as well. I know that in California 7th grade Writing Standards include a persuasive essay. That could be included in a letter to the next player to engage in certain strategies for game play and explain why.

For math....After determining the probability of certain rolls how do students use that information to maximize their resource production for the next game? Have them develop an action plan based on the charted statistical outcomes (which are more or less already dealt with in the game) and engage in some metacognition about game play. An additional component would be to see if those statistical outcomes change with the use of two six-segmented spinners...or one 12-segmented one.

Also for drawing from the card pile they should figure out the mathematical probabilities of drawing certain cards and develop a table for the same.

Some Social Studies standards in the 7th and 8th grades consider why villages, roads and towns are hallmarks of civilizations and empires. Those standards also address why certain areas were settled and others were not...it is doubtful that many people will want to build a town or city next to a desert in the game...why is that true when considering where settlements were built in the Roman or other empires. What if one added more desert tiles to the game?

These are just ideas for an integrated curriculum project proposal you could give to your principal. I do not think purposeful gaming and identifiable tangible evidence of learning is a waste of time. Brain Based research indicates the contrary. Emotional engagement, and fun makes for powerful learning. I could not support just giving the kids a game without having learning addressed. But these added components that let students metacognate, reflect, articulate, share, write to persuade, write to imagine, experiment, and produce...well that is altogether different.
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Craig Liken
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Interesting thread - I would gladly lend my copy of Settlers, but I'm in New Zealand so it would probably cost more in freight than the game is worth. I wonder how many BGG members are in Virginia and how many of these have Settlers - heaps I would suspect.

Sound like a great idea for the end of year - totally don't agree with that other guy - I think you need to make learning an interesting experience - why not play Settlers to teach some probability and perhaps a few basic economics concepts into the bargain? why not take them out into the playing fields and see if they can figure out how big an acre is?

When I was in about 7th grade equivalent at school (about 20 odd years ago) we played an international resource trading game (I'm not sure where it came from) where about 5 children each had control of a country (there must have been at least 70 or 80 kids involved) - some countries (like the US and Japan) had heaps of factories, money and resources and other had way less and you had to try and trade with other countries to get the required production to keep your population happy essentially. It was a sharp lesson in the inequality between rich and poor. We were Argentina and had plenty of meat - a bit of grain and not much else -we went backwards pretty fast. Regardless of that, it was one of the most memorable experiences I had at school!
 
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Alex Yeager
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The idea of meeting educational standards is almost mandatory to be able to justify the time, cost and value of games in a classroom. As we're developing the lesson plans for our games (go to http://mayfairgames.com, click on the "Teacher Zone" link, then on the "Lesson Plans" link), we are listing the specific Ohio educational standards met, and hope in the future to expand to some general standards that will hit a wider target.

In addition, note that you can teach PART of a game as a legitimate classroom exercise, generating interest in the game, and let kids play the entire game as part of a free time of outside-the-classroom activity. So, for example, our next lesson plan is a Catan-based probability exercise. It's not playing the game, but it teaches concepts that will both improve their play of the game, and reinforce the class concept through repetition (and hopefully the enjoyable repetition of play).

We're working with teachers and administrators to both develop this material, and determine our next projects. I'd especially encourage teachers in the Ohio-Michigan-Indiana area to consider going to Origins and participating in the Teacher's Pass program (http://www.originsgames.com/teachershallpass). It's free admission to the convention, and access to a series of seminars on using games in education. We enjoy being a part of this track every year, and it's one of the best tools we have in determining needs and gathering feedback!

Alex Yeager
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Eric Jome
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wafflestomper wrote:
1. Do you see anything immoral about this?

Technically yes. But I, being a noble soul, forgive you. The people who manufacture and sell the game are probably not too thrilled though.

Quote:
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.

Well, you are ramping up from petty larceny to distribution of stolen goods, so if you are willing to take the risk, I suppose you could do this.

When the Mafia steals a truckload of televisions, they do not take them to the Mafia Television Store and sell them to the public. They give them away to friends or sell them quietly behind the scenes. If you are going to "borrow" Settlers and you wish to share your ill gotten gains, you should perhaps take a page from practiced, successful re-distributors of wealth and offer "your" wares on the sly.

Quote:
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.

Apple computers rose to prominence when the company practically gave them away to schools for the purpose of teaching kids about computers. If instead of setting out on this odyssey alone you were to perhaps contact the publisher and ask if you could make arrangements, there is the very good chance they too might part with some copies on the cheap. There is also the "bake sale" approach, asking around here if there are people with old or spare games or parts that they would be willing to donate to your worthy cause.
 
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Eric Jome
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re: the efficacy of games as teaching tools

I stand before you today (figuratively) the product of a life of games of all sorts. And what has the life produced? I'll dispense with the humility and sound my own trumpet by saying I am financially and professionally very successful, I have a wonderful wife and beautiful son, I am well educated and well travelled. I owe all my happiness and whatever measure of success I've enjoyed to only two things - 1) My family. 2) Games.

There has been no stronger force in my life to inspire me to better myself and enrich my own life and the lives of others than games. Role playing, board, cards, and miniatures. Serious competitions to beer & pretzels. From my dearest Father teaching me Chess on the cushions of our couch when I was barely taller than the dining room table to the role playing game I ran for my best friends last night, games make me who I am. And that person is one I hope others would look on with approval - I believe I have every right to expect they would.

I would never want to deny that opportunity to another person. Nothing but good can come of playing games. You can find the joy of a lifetime, explore human nature, and understand the world in ways great and small. Effective as a teaching tool? No force in life can match playing games. Even Nature itself finds the best way to teach the animals is playing games.

Everyone deserves the chance to have games in their life.
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Eric Jome
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Neontek wrote:
Here's a nice video:

You've reached the first step of initiation, realizing that there may be people out there who have agendas and those agendas may not be in your interest.

Now ask yourself this - Are the people making the video that you use as an example also people with an agenda? Can you trust them and believe in them?

Quote:
I believe they are dumbing down our populations on purpose to create a dumbed down proletariat.

Look, I love conspiracy theories probably twice as much as anyone else. But no one is trying to dumb down anyone. There's an old saying that goes "when there are two explanations and one is simple and one is complex, go with the simple one" - assuming there is a cabal of people manipulating the education system to some nefarious end is a pretty complex explanation.

Quote:
I know most of you don't like socialism and whatever, because it's atheist, but you must admit that this decline in university access is a sign of the times.

I admit no such thing. And I am a socialist. And atheist.

More students have more access to more education in more forms than ever before. Indeed, the necessity of a classic Liberal Arts education continues to decline in an era dominated by specialization.

When you see children failing, ask yourself if it was the school or if they were set up to fail before they even went to school? Perhaps by parents who cannot or will not discipline or encourage their children? A school receives a child at 5 years old. Science tells us that many of the factors that most determine that child's success or failure in life have already happened.

Poverty does more to ruin children than all of the worst education in the history of the world. Indeed, education is perhaps the only solution we have to poverty. And it is clearly only partially effective.

Quote:
Also, as a rebuke to your previous statement; I doubt the boredom-immune students get into Harvard. It seems more likely to me that the poverty-immune students get into Harvard.

Harvard is irrelevant. The great secret they don't tell young people is that having a degree from a prestigious university is the greatest waste of time and money in education. You don't need to go to Harvard to get a good education. Indeed, you'll probably hurt yourself as much as you help yourself hiding away behind ivy covered walls learning useless facts from dusty tomes so you can get a paper with a pretty name on it.

I'd hire a kid from the local community college as a draftsman, engineer, architect, or tech before I'd consider anyone from Harvard.
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Kurt Keckley
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From a fellow teacher...

If you have 30 kids and just want to introduce the math behind the game or develop decision making skills, here's what I would do in my classroom. This would only require 2-3 sets.

1. Make the map about 1/2 or 1/3 size, say 3 tiles down the middle.

2. Allow builds in adjacent areas due to size

3. Ignore ports - not enough water.

4. Remove the bandit for speed of play.

5. Take out development cards in order to streamline the rules. I am guessing you only have 45-60 minutes for the entire activity

6. Let any student interested in learning the "entire game" come in at lunch or after school.

Kurt
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