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Posts Tagged ‘learning’

Well today is the last day of 4 weeks at University of Denver.  It has been a great professional development experience, even though the last week has been tough (simply because it is the last week).

For the last two weeks we were challenged to create game about the political environment here in the US.  My group chose to make a game about the 270 Electoral Votes needed to win the election.  A couple of things to note about our game.  When you open it up and look at the map (game board) you’ll notice the states are not all sized to the same scale.  Our group made a design decision to scale up those states with more electoral votes, and downsize those with fewer electoral votes.  We also used the 270 to Win website for a lot of our research. From this site we gathered lots of information regarding past voting in each state for the last 10 presidential elections, as well as what the current leanings of the state are.

I’ve posted  a zipped version of our game here, http://www.p4games.org/node/699 .  You will need to have Greenfoot downloaded and installed on your computer to run the game.  Also on the DU-Blog post above I also tried an export to HTML from Greenfoot.  At this time I’m on a lab computer and can’t make changes, so I’m unable to troubleshoot why that export isn’t working.

I spent a fair amount of time the last two weeks working on curriculum for a semester class in game development.  I’m still not done with this project, but here is a link to what I’ve got so far.  At this point I’m to week 12 in an 18 week semester.  My thought was to plan 16 – 17 weeks.  This would leave room for adjustment during the semester, and allow for missed days such as Pep Assembly days, etc.  Also at this point (Week 12) my plan is to move into a major project, and have the students develop a Humane Game that will require research and most of their class time for the remainder of the semester.

If you’re interested in this program, please feel free to ask me questions, or check out the University of Denver, Teacher Game Institute web pages, off of this page you can link to examples used during the Teacher portion of the program, and if you follow the links to Game Camp, you’ll see all the great things they did with the 9th and 10th grade girls who participated.  If you have a chance to participate I encourage you to do so.  The team here at DU has been fantastic.  My niece, who was a Game Camp participant, has informed me it was great fun.

This morning, Collen McCreary from EA games, will be in to speak to the girls about all of the different careers available in the game industry.  I’m really looking forward to this talk too!  It should be a good close to this program.

I am now looking forward to about 2.5 weeks of holiday until I report back on August 6 or 7.  I’m still not certain I’ve got a new position, although I’ve been told to hang in there, they are still waiting on the paperwork from the US Department of Education….so I am trying to be patient, and wait!

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Yes, it is Saturday, and we were all here at 8:30 am. We are attending today, because this is a 10 day program, and July 4, would be our last day. This way, we will finish on July 3.

Programming

We started the morning by using forLoops to write a word on the Greenfoot world, with a small image. I was able to write the word THE using 9 for Loops. I would like to go on and add the word END below it. This will require learning how to do a diagonal line, as well, as dealing with the D somehow.

Pixels

We were back in the computer lab today using the Wacom tablets…..these have got to be the coolest things. We did the perspective drawings from yesterday, using Inkscape, and we also tried the Molly Bang type drawings using Inkscape. While I might still use Fireworks in the classroom, because that software is available, and it has more tools, Inkscape will be a good solution for students who want to work at home, or have been absent, I will need to do a little experimenting to see if an exported .png file from Inkscape can be edited in Fireworks.

Pedagogy

We started the afternoon session with a brief discussion on the final chapter in the book. Then we watched a video of Dan Pink. I’d not seen this video before and found it very interesting. I particularly enjoyed is analogy that the MFA (Master of Fine Arts degree) is the new MBA (Master of Business Administration). I picked up from the video (as I’ve not read his book, that his competencies are what he sees as important for jobs that can’t be outsourced or automated. Then we blogged some discussion questions.

Play

We had 1/2 hour to develop our game about sad. I really struggled with this. Rafael knew I was struggling and gave me a deck of cards called “Grow a Game“. These were a big help although I still struggled. When it came time to present, I didn’t have anything I was willing to share. I listened to some of the others ideas (not everyone shared this round), and I think the issue was I felt my ideas were not formed well enough to share. In retrospect they probably were.

My idea for a game about sad, was an educational game about life at Port Arthur, Tasmania. At Port Arthur there was an island where they imprisoned young boys (you could be transported at age 8). I think this would be a board game, and the goal of the game would be to learn a skill (example: Stone Masonry) and earn your release from Port Arthur. However, bad things happened there, and you may not make it.

When you visit Port Arthur, you can get a card, with a name of a real convict on it, at the end you can find out what happened to that convict. My idea sort of grew out of this activity, it could tell the story of what happened in between.

Thoughts on the Week

When I got home tonight was very tired after 6 days at TGI. We started late (too a teacher!) but we finished late too. In some ways I felt I had no time to process what I was learning as the week progressed. However, given all that I’d still have to say this was one of the best weeks I’ve ever spent in professional development. The team at DU has kept the number of participants down, so we are a small group, and I think everyone feels safe sharing in the group. The program has gotten all of us out of our comfort zones on some level, and thinking what a great way this will be to teach students. In some ways I’m very disappointed I probably will not be returning to the classroom.

I believe that over the next four days we will be moving to more of a workshop type environment (not 4 sessions/classes per day). During this time we will need to develop a game by Thursday. I think I may go back to my Chocolate-Switzerland game for this…..although I’ve got until tomorrow morning to change my mind!

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