Essential Question: What is the game you are thinking of writing up for your classroom?
Why reinvent the wheel? That’s what I kept telling myself as I struggled to come up with an original game concept to use in my classroom. Reflecting back on Matera’s obvious use of the Game of Thrones theme helped push me in the direction of taking a game that has already been designed and adapting it to the needs of my classroom.
In choosing a game, I spent a fair amount of time considered what I wanted to get out of it. I already knew what I didn’t want. I didn’t want it to be a tool to monitor behavior. For me, engagement is the best method for modifying unwanted behavior. Engagement would need to be at the top of the list. I also wanted a game which would encourage collaboration. As our students of today move into the workforce of tomorrow, most of them will be expected to collaborate with their colleagues. Teaching them this skill is critical for their future success. Finally, I wanted a game that was easily adaptable to meet the varying academic and emotional needs of the students in my classroom.
The game I have chosen to blatantly copy (and then adapt to work in a classroom setting) is Pandemic. The manufacturer describes it in the following way: “Four diseases have broken out in the world and it is up to a team of specialists in various fields to find cures for these diseases before mankind is wiped out. Players must work together playing to their characters’ strengths and planning their strategy of eradication before the diseases overwhelm the world with ever-increasing outbreaks. For example the Operation Specialist can build research stations which are needed to find cures for the diseases. The Scientist needs only 4 cards of a particular disease to cure it instead of the normal 5. But the diseases are out breaking fast and time is running out: the team must try to stem the tide of infection in diseased areas while also towards cures. A truly cooperative game where you all win or you all lose (n.d.).”
I really like the idea of using this game in the classroom because it is set up to be players against the game, not each other. This is the type of collaboration I am hoping to instill in my students. I will most likely use it in math, where I have one dedicated 35 minute block of time each day where all of my students are in the room. Students would be placed into teams based on their current understanding of the standards we are working on, then assigned roles within those groups with each player having specific strengths. For the purposes of my classroom, I would use a map of the United States (one of the fifth grade standards is understanding U.S. geography) as the original playing field. As students complete a certain number of assigned math problems, their team earns a chance at play (this still needs to be worked out), and the team must decide what they will do with that play. I am envisioning each group having their own map, although one map could be used an teams could take turns at play in the order they finished.
Pandemic. (n.d.) At Amazon. Retrieved from https://www.amazon.com/Z-Man-Games-ZMG-71100-Pandemic/dp/B00A2HD40E/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8