Thursday, October 29, 2015

Day 39: Dungeons & Disciplinarians

Test tomorrow.

"Yesterday I gave you a list of topics and concepts that will be on the test.  Today, I'll answer any questions you have, fill in any gaps you might have in your notes.  What questions do you have?"


The majority of the students spent the class working (or not) on other things.  There were at least a few in each class who had some good questions, either about the material, or hypothetical questions about the Earth and the Moon.

In one class, I spoke with a group of young men about the benefits of game-play in general and Dungeons and Dragons in particular.  Storytelling, resource management, problem solving, teamwork, creativity and planning are just a few of the skills that are developed through games.

You know, the kinds of skills we want kids to have when they finish school and move out into reality.
"Recite the quadratic formula or I'll eat you up!"
Not for the first time, I find myself wondering if you could create a system/campaign to comprehensively teach various subjects.  I think some would lend themselves to it fairly easily, like history or literature, where others might be more complex.  I think it would take a complete restructuring of courses and sequences.  I think trigonometry and algebra would have to be integrated into other classes.

I'm not talking about gamification, just adding game elements to regular classes.  I'm talking about a game that would teach the content, allowing students to specialize and rely on teams to move forward.

MIT built a game called The Radix Endeavor that (supposedly) teaches biology, ecology and a few other ologies.  I need to look into it more, but I suspect that it's not exactly what I'm looking for.  I do know that it doesn't focus on Astronomy and Physics or math in the way that I would want.

The physics kids can't just let me do my examples...

Me: "A helicopter takes off at 35 degree with a velocity of 95 km/h.  What is the horizontal component of the velocity?"
S: "Why do we need that?"
Me: "We want to stay in the shadow of the helicopter?"
S: "Why?"

It escalated quickly...

Me: "Ok. A Bond villain escapes in a helicopter, taking off at 35 degrees and moving at 95 km/h.  As he flies, he drops kittens from the helicopter.  In order to save the kittens, James Bond drives a pick-up truck full of mattresses under the helicopter.  How fast much he drive to make sure the kittens land on the mattresses?"

"Goodbye, Mr. Bond! Give my regards to Chairman Meow!"

What jerks...forcing me to be creative...


  1. When I started reading, I was relieved to see you have similar struggles with day-before-the-test attitudes. I've been fighting that pretty hard this year with my students. I didn't dive as hard into hypotheticals, and I wish I had taken the chance like you did.

    And please tell me you drew the Air Force One picture.

  2. Beautiful end to your blog. I laughed. I cried. Thank you for writing about it.

    1. Tony, thank you so much for reading and for your comments! I hope you continue to enjoy it.


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