For reasons of scheduling, I didn't run my usual Mario Kart research project this week...though next week I will be back at it, in a Gr. 4/5 classroom with MK literacy centers and MK division!
Even though I didn't run the project, I've a few interesting points related to Mario Kart and game based learning that I thought I might post:
There's a teacher at my school who told me this cute story last week. In our photocopy room, there's a recycle bin, and sometimes this teacher pulls paper from there, and then photocopies what she needs on the back of it, as a way to re-use paper. One day, it turned out that she pulled out from the recycle bin some of my Mario Kart math/colouring sheets to use. In class, a student turned it over-- and exclaimed in pleased surprise. "My page has Mario on the back!" This then led the class to turn over their pages--some did have Mario characters, some didn't. It was all very exciting.
Some eventually coloured them in, too.
I think this is a funny story because it shows the buzz just even a plain ol' MK themed picture creates. Using games in the classroom does not have to be elaborate...
2. Or you can be VERY elaborate!
This week I had the opportunity to Skype with Brian McLaren in Scotland. He worked on the Mairo Kart Leaderboard last school year for the Consolarium, and supported schools there in initiating their own Mairo Kart projects. He kindly consented to share how the Leaderboard worked and some of the projects that happened...these were very inspiring!
I especially liked hearing about the cross curricular projects and the 'real life connections', such as:
- link MK to Forumla One racing, study effective ads, car designs, race courses, cities in which the races take place
- then create racing groups, each student owning a particular role: students can design (drawing or 3D), advertise, write about their own racing car, have a budget and plan how to get from one race city to another without risking financial ruin (looking up airfare on the internet, for instance)
- hold the race! create race courses to scale, then chalk out in the playground-one school even had students create their own karts, which they then used in a real race!
I also got to participate in a Phd research project about gaming in education, skyping with Leo Cao from the University of North Carolina. This was a great way for me to articulate the how's and why's of my current project, and also to explain some of my ideas of future projects (as I said to my principal recently: 'you realize I am just getting started with this!'). Participating in this study just doubled my passion for this emerging and engaging subject.
4. Behaviour Wii
A fellow SERT and I were talking one day a few months ago about how to support several junior boys who had issues with work completion and anger/disrespectful behaviour. We wanted to run a social skills group, but since it was going to be held at recess--and would thus be voluntary--we knew it had to have a 'hook'. We didn't think the boys would willing give up playing soccer outside for a mere round of 'role play and strategizing about emotions and respectful behaviour'.
So we incorporated the Wii. We developed a role play game that happens withint the context of the Wii game play. So when the boys play Mario Kart, they also have role play cards (for example, one plays 'angry', the other plays 'uncaring'). The other students are observers, with distinct questions to answer (also on cards), such as: how did their behaviour impact the game results? how did watching their behaviour make you feel? (often, these students are unaware of how their behaviour impacts others), etc. After the game is over, we all come together to discuss what happened, and to examine strategies for handling those emotions in the moment. Then we try them out.
There is also Wii reward time given in their regular class to support positive behaviour. And at the end of the year, we're going to have a Wii tournament via Skype with another group of boys at a school in Toronto (with thanks to the fabulous Diana @MzMollyTL). We in fact started off the group with a co-operate activity/discussion between the boys of both schools via Skype--which really fostered a great sense of connection.
We only just started implementing this, but its clear to us that without the Wii game play, the boys would not volunteer to give up their time! The program would not happen with out it.