Jacob J. Walker's Blog

Scholarly Thoughts, Research, and Journalism for Informal Peer Review

Archive for April 20th, 2012

My Daughter Building a Board Game

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My daughter, A,  just had a school assignment to make a board game about the U.S. Revolutionary War.  (I call her “A” in these postings, to protect her privacy and try to follow what an IRB might want for research, I’m sure all my friends know who she is.)

First, before I can talk about the educational value, and thoughts about the project, I need to make a confession.  She was a day late on her assignment mostly because of me.  Balancing so many things right now is still challenging, and unfortunately it seems that often I have put my daughters education as a lower priority than keeping my school open, so it can serve other’s education.  This is a hard balance, and it doesn’t mean that I have been terrible at helping my daughters, as when I do help them, I think I help them very well, but the time I give them is lacking.   So in this case, my daughter had at least 5 times asked to work on the project before it was due, and I kept putting it off.

Ok, so now that is off of my conscience, I want to talk about the educational value that I think this project had and other thoughts and opinions.

  1. I really liked this assignment.  I think games and play are a natural way of learning, and in fact neurologically it seems that play is in most mammals as an emotion to help them learn.
  2. To help my daughter, I mostly used the Socratic Method of asking her what she remembered about the Revolutionary War, so she came up with the questions and answers.   This seemed to work very well for her to remember things.
  3. I am a little disappointed with what it seems kids are still learning about history.  Most of it is still pretty low on Bloom’s Taxonomy, with a lot of facts, but not much critical thinking.  Although maybe in 5th grade it is still good to start at that point.   But, to throw in a little “controversy” to hopefully stimulate critical thinking, I asked my daughter to include 2 extra questions:
    • Did Thomas Jefferson, who wrote “All men are created equal,” have slaves? (Answer: Yes*)
    • What is the difference between a revolutionary war and a civil war?  (Answer: The rebels win in a revolutionary war.)

      * – I should note that I am still a huge fan of Thomas Jefferson overall, but it does show how easy hypocrisy is, and how we all need to continue to question ourselves to live more ethically and truly.

  4. I think the game also could make for a great math/computer science lesson.  It was clear that A needed to “debug” her algorithms of her game.  For instance, she didn’t have enough cards with questions on them to get all the way around the board to win.  So she could have either changed the rules a little (like saying “the person who is the furthest when the cards run out wins.”) or made more cards.   She also had an “infinite loop”/paradox at one point in the game, where one game space made a person move forward one spot, and the next space made the person move backwards one spot.  I wish I hadn’t been so far behind in helping her with the project, because I would have spent more time helping her debug and learn about how this related to computer science and programming.

So overall, I think this was a really good project, with very good learning for my daughter.  I think project based learning, while much harder to truly measure the educational value of for a student from an “objective” sense, is so much more valuable than traditional question and answer methods of traditional testing.

Written by Jacob Walker

April 20th, 2012 at 8:46 am

Posted in Uncategorized