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It says here: http://www.popsci.com/scitech/article/2009-09/first-public-s...

Apparently the sixth-grade curriculum will be built around gaming in many forms, including Settlers.
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'Bout time. Gaming has always been a tremendous, and under utilized, teaching tool.
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Good for gaming, perhaps bad for schools. I think its a neat idea, and I definitely fondly remember games and activities that only happened in the advanced programs (especially elementary school where we had a weekly chess tutor). That said, I don't think most of the games out there really teach material.

They certainly help tremendously in social maturation and teaching team-work and values, but does playing Settlers really teach you about colonization or governance? I think there is lots of room for historical wargames and game design however. Historical wargames could and should be incorporated into document-driven research and as simulations and sources of new hypotheses and jumping off points for learning (what foods were eaten? Oh that's why my supply is so poor). Game design teaches not only team-work and collaboration, but also teaches a mindset for modeling, simulation, and systems analysis. These game areas teach ways of thinking. Most games, however, don't cut it at the high school level.

Bottom line: Game design/development/play-testing and simulation games will be most beneficial to a game based curriculum.
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Mease19 wrote:
They certainly help tremendously in social maturation and teaching team-work and values, but does playing Settlers really teach you about colonization or governance?


No, but it *does* teach probability and long-term planning. It really takes mathematical understanding and a combination of strategic planning and tactical adapting to win a game of Settlers, not to mention a good deal of other Eurogames.

Discipline and planning are two vital skills, which, IMO, are sorely lacking in American society. Witness how few people plan their own retirement and their children's college funds. If anything, high school students will benefit from these sort of activities, as they enter a time where they will encounter decisions between short-term gratification and long-term goals.
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Sam and Max wrote:
Mease19 wrote:
They certainly help tremendously in social maturation and teaching team-work and values, but does playing Settlers really teach you about colonization or governance?


No, but it *does* teach probability and long-term planning. It really takes mathematical understanding and a combination of strategic planning and tactical adapting to win a game of Settlers, not to mention a good deal of other Eurogames.

Discipline and planning are two vital skills, which, IMO, are sorely lacking in American society. Witness how few people plan their own retirement and their children's college funds. If anything, high school students will benefit from these sort of activities, as they enter a time where they will encounter decisions between short-term gratification and long-term goals.


These things are true, but only if the student is motivated to win and takes the time to analyze their own and others' game situations. I think its more important they they learn how and why the game works and how the game relates to the theme. The importance of playing a game like Power Grid is learning how the market mechanic models real commodities markets, seeing how business's develop territories and seeing how innovation drives industry. Learning the strategic timing of ending the game is secondary and requires enough play time to be beyond the scope of including multiple games in a curriculum.
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Settlers of Catan in the classroom is a terrible idea. Kids that age will pounce on the opportunity to use all of their energy and resources just to make sure the least popular player doesn't win. Said player will never be able to benefit from trade, will constantly be targeted by the robber, and will be told he/she "sucks" and is "stupid" whenever he/she experiences a string of bad luck.

Children are sadists. They should not be given more avenues with which to prove it.
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> Children are sadists. They should not be given more avenues with which to prove it.

Anyone who believes this has the most primitive and shallow understanding
of the way children actually behave. Children are not sadists, they are
just naive - some of them can and do figure out proper behavior on their
own, but some of them are not capable of that and need to be taught this
part of life and guided. Talented, skilled, and experienced adults who
understand children can avoid the kinds of problems Eric predicts by
providing structure and guidance.

Chris
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I've actually given demos of various games to adults and kids and have to say you can't categorize all kids as one sort of behavior or another.

What's great about games is that kids, in general, are much more motivated to learn via games, rather than the usual school curriculum.

Roleplaying games teach math, reading, and processing rules and information. Most book reading is a passive act, with active behavior (eg. the book report) latched onto it. Reading a roleplaying book is often an active activity, as the student looks up information he immediately needs to do something.

CCGs like Pokemon and Magic teach social skills (trading), probability, and, again, how individual rules interact to accomplish goals. Often, the analytical skills necessary for CCGs are quite complex.

I've also met homeschool families who play Munchkin. Many boys exhibit alpha-male behavior, and "take that" games structuralize this away from the "free for all" unsupervised social area outside of the class to a more disciplined area. I've also been told that games are a remarkable catalyst to allow kids lacking social skills to interact with others.

Apples to Apples teaches similes (much better than poetry!). Word games teach vocabulary and grammar -- and often quick thinking under pressure. They're also games girls play better than boys.

Eurogames *are* more sophisticated (I can see you scoffing at Pokemon, Munchkin and Apples to Apples!) and I wouldn't expect immature children to play these games. However, as I said before, they're a very good way to teach long-term planning within only an hour's worth of game.

I'm not ready to say yet that games should replace core curriculum, but, as an elective, or, better yet, after school club, I think games can greatly enhance learning -- especially by motivating the student, and not making him realize he's enjoying learning new skills!
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Numskull wrote:

Children are sadists. They should not be given more avenues with which to prove it.


While I disagree that all children are sadists, I will say that classrooms are a mixed bag. The ones who aren't interested can/will ruin it for the ones who would benefit. As someone else suggested, games as an option and/or after school club seems more viable as an education tool.
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have them play Kingdoms or many of the other Knizia games that are great for math skills.
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It should also be noted, perhaps strongly, that what kids can get out of games is not the same as what they will get out of games. All of us got into games because we like them. We get more out of them because we spend lots of time thinking about them. Think about trying to get your spouse or non-gamer friend to play a game. If they liked it, what did they get out of it? Fun? A mental workout? Did they learn anything about the theme? If they didn't like it, and I know we've all had this experience, what did they get out of it? Frustration? Anything? While we'd all like to see more games and more people playing them, because these are our children we need to take a much harder look at the real benifits of including games in a curriculum and not just potential benifits. Ultimately, we should wait and see the measurable outcomes of this test school.
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Sorry for the unabashed pessimism, but I think this can only result in kids solidly predisposed against Settlers and against gaming in general. Putting it in a classroom and trying to extract lessons from it will absolutely destroy any chance at fun or engagement for many, though not all, of the children involved.

I'm all for after-school gaming clubs. Mainlining it will backfire.
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Sky Knight X wrote:
'Bout time. Gaming has always been a tremendous, and under utilized, teaching tool.


Amen, if it wasn't for Risk I would have never known where Siam is!

Bill
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I followed a few of the links provided within this article.
Central to the article is a specific school called "Quest to Learn" (http://q2l.org}

Quest to Learn's Mission statement: "Quest to Learn is a school for digital kids. It is a community where students learn to see the world as composed of many different kinds of systems. It is a place to play, invent, grow, and explore."

Here is text from a short PDF provided on their site:
http://www.instituteofplay.org/content_q2l/mediakit/Game-bas...

GAME-BASED LEARNING
Quest to Learn uses the structure of games to create powerful educational tools to teach its 6-12th graders. Games work as rule-based learning systems, creating worlds in which players actively participate, use strategic thinking to make choices, solve complex problems, seek content knowledge, receive constant feedback, and consider the point of view of others.

WHY GAMES?
As is the case with many of the games played by young people today, Quest is designed to enable students to take on the identities and behaviors of explorers, mathematicians, historians, writers, and evolutionary biologists as they work through a dynamic, challenge-based curriculum with content-rich questing to learn at its core. It is important to note that Quest is not a school where children spend their day playing commercial videogames. Instead Quest to Learn is a school that combines what researchers and educators know about how children learn best with the principles of game design to create highly immersive, content-rich game-like learning experiences in the classroom. Quest’s Game-based Learning motivates learning, promotes academic success and prepares students for their future by teaching the skills and literacies necessary for success in the 21st century.
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Um... I posted this news in February and got almost no response. What the hell?

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/382657

And for the record, I would make a strong argument that the most profound and meaningful learning is playful, contains an element of discovery and surprise.

And given that public school (and indeed most human interaction) already has game-like qualities, how could this possibly be perceived as a bad idea?

You know what's a bad idea? People that know nothing about children, teaching & learning, or human development making decisions about education.
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Games don't teach math or english but they teach how to think...however the students must also be willing. Will it work? Maybe..that remains to be seen.

I also think that ticket to ride would have been better (but i have never been known to be a fan of settlers so skewed opinion)
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Numskull wrote:
Children are sadists. They should not be given more avenues with which to prove it.


pss!

Children are just more honest - they do to your face what adults do behind your back.
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MScrivner wrote:
And for the record, I would make a strong argument that the most profound and meaningful learning is playful, contains an element of discovery and surprise.


I agree. This is exactly why putting games in a classroom environment is a bad idea.
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DaFink wrote:
Games don't teach math...




Statistics = math.

Probability = math.

Resource accrual, management and expenditure = math.

Finance = math.

What games are you playing?
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This school is either a private or charter school which means it is likely that the students are far from average, and the teacher involvment is greater and can be more flexible. The students are probably more advanced, mature, etc as well.

Within the right context games could be very educational both to teach the underlying math, social and basic game theory concepts but also allow a child that is the proverbial math geek some attention for being outstanding.

In my junior high we used diplomacy to help teach how political relationships work in our history class, playing something like 2 rounds a week. I spent more timeing involved in that and learning outside of the class room than probably the entire semester of all other classes combined.

I don't know if games in classes wold work for everyone but they did for me.
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MScrivner wrote:
...I would make a strong argument that the most profound and meaningful learning is playful, contains an element of discovery and surprise.


This is true, but how much profound learning do you expect to receive in the sixth grade? This type of profound learning most likely must be self-initiated; hence, having games be a required part of the coursework may rob them of their potential benefit. While I'm not opposing games in schools, I am saying that very careful pairing of games with learning objectives and thorough follow-up is necessary to produce the desired benifits.

MScrivner wrote:
You know what's a bad idea? People that know nothing about children, teaching & learning, or human development making decisions about education.

I wholeheartedly agree. But then again, who's to say who is best suited to make these decisions? Educators? Policy-makers? Psychologists? Gamers? Can the election process guarantee adequate credentials? These are some tough questions...
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J.L.Robert wrote:
DaFink wrote:
Games don't teach math...

Statistics = math.
Probability = math.
Resource accrual, management and expenditure = math.
Finance = math.


To measurable improve math skills, any one game probably requires repeated plays far exceeding the scope of a class. Games that would teach "ways of thinking" require extended play in which the system can be explored and may not be particularly helpful in a single-game dose.

For games that might teach these math skills, a single game could also cause those who learned the material to win and those who struggled to lose, further alienating them from the material.

I think that many games that are compatible with educational goals simulate historical situations or explore systems (e.g. ecology, markets, manufacturing, etc.) or are project level assignments such as playing the same game multiple times and assessing why different strategies worked or designing and play-testing a game as a group...
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MScrivner wrote:
Um... I posted this news in February and got almost no response. What the hell?


Timing.
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Mease19 wrote:
It should also be noted, perhaps strongly, that what kids can get out of games is not the same as what they will get out of games.

gives us...

It should also be noted, perhaps strongly, that what kids can get out of school is not the same as what they will get out of school.

Please don't tell me you don't want certain tools used because some students might not get it? I could understand finding the right grade to use certain games or something that isn't such a blanket statement.

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nibuen wrote:
Mease19 wrote:
It should also be noted, perhaps strongly, that what kids can get out of games is not the same as what they will get out of games.

gives us...

It should also be noted, perhaps strongly, that what kids can get out of school is not the same as what they will get out of school.

Please don't tell me you don't want certain tools used because some students might not get it? I could understand finding the right grade to use certain games or something that isn't such a blanket statement.



I'm not saying that games have no place in schools. What I'm saying is that our kids education is really important. Some games will be better suited to a given educational goal, than others. Games can be a potent tool in a teacher's toolbelt, but any tool used in a classroom should be used intentionally and with plenty of forethought and evaluation.
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