As part of the launch of Passionate Kids Projects, we watched the inspirational Caine’s Arcade video. The students were entranced. After watching the video, we walked over to my office. I had been hoarding boxes and random supplies all year long. I opened the door to this . . .
Two summers ago, I read John Spencer and AJ Juliani's #LaunchBook. Their launch cycle is perfect in our classroom for design challenges. I highly recommend the book if you are new to design thinking.
To get started, each student created their individual game design on paper then pitched their design in small groups. Next, students created teams. For our Shark Tank challenge, students were grouped by interest. For this challenge, I allowed students to self-select their teams. My goals for the Cardboard Challenge were to create an engaging game, infuse language arts standards, and interact with the 4 Cs, while also spending some social time with classmates. As sixth graders, this is their last year in elementary school. This activity will be a moment for them to remember.
We ended up with 10 teams. Each team created another plan for a group game and were ready to start building. Check out their group pitches on this Flipgid. This is where the real fun and creative critical thinking begins. Students got their supplies from the warehouse (see this post on how I used gamification to get supplies), brought items from home, and started building. For about four 1 hour sessions, students cut, glued, taped, painted, and modified their games. Groups worked both inside and outside of the classroom. I relate the process to Mary Poppins and her magical carpetbag. Miraculously, items pop out and go right back in. Each group had a spot in the classroom for their supplies. And just like Mary Poppins, things came out and things went right back where they belong at the end of a building session. The iteration process was powerful as students worked through the construction of their games. Shout out to Mr. Anthony for helping with the exacto knife. (#SafetyFirst) Take a look at their work sessions and designs . . .
For our public display of learning, we launched #GameFest2018. We invited our third grade classes, friends from the special day class, parents, and district leaders. Our sixth graders welcomed guests, gave instructions to participating students, and encouraged everyone to have fun. As students started playing, I met with the adults and introduced the Waldo cards. They had a lot of fun with their special task. For 45 minutes, we had a full-scale arcade going. I wish I could share all the positive comments from the adults and students alike. Instead, let’s take a peek . . .
“Gamefest was very amazing for my group. At first there weren’t that many people, but then there were a lot. We also got two Where’s Waldo cards and it seemed like the kids really enjoyed our game. I think that some advice that I would give is to really engage your audience, and be positive and energetic. Doing this makes kids really want to play your game, and it just gives out a positive vibe. All our group was encouraging the kids, so that they would have fun, and all the kids did pretty good. The high score was 3 points, and 3 people tied the high score. My group and I did very well running our game, and that was one of the reasons that we got a where’s Waldo card. After each turn, the kids would have to roll the dice, and if it was an odd number, they had to do a dare, but if it was an even number, they had to do a truth. If it were doubles, they got to pick which one they wanted to do out of the two. Everyone got a prize, and that prize was candy. There were a lot of kids who got truth, and some got dares, but no one got doubles. Something that my group and I could have done better was to make better truth and dare cards, because they were decent, but we could have made them better.” -AS
“I think game fest went really well but I could have also done better in attracting kids to play the game my partner and I made. One thing we could have done is have spoken more. We didn’t really talk much because we are both a bit shy. I was worried that not many people would come and play our game but they did. I didn’t expect many people to come and play our game, so I was really surprised. We even got a waldo card. We gave out candy and some other prizes and that also worked out well. It was fun overall because I got to see kids play the game my partner and me made. It was awesome to see kids play and have fun playing all the games that were there.
Some tips I would give to others that might do this challenge is to not be shy when people are playing your game. You should also be cheerful when people start to play your game so then that would attract people to play your game. Try to have a normal mode then a challenge mode in your game. That could make it fun and they could get different prizes. (You really don’t need to give out prizes) I would also suggest the teacher should buy water because it was hot outside.” -JQ
My personal reflection is that the class exceeded my expectations. This is the third time I’ve done the Cardboard Challenge. It gets better and better each time. I have to tell one quick story. Our school site hosts a moderate to severe handicapped class. After #GameFest2018, the teacher told me a story. She shared how impressed she was with how the sixth graders interacted with her students. In particular, an interaction she witnessed with one of her students that is blind. She was almost in tears as she shared how gentle and kind the sixth graders were. For me, this story made the whole experience worth it. We are educating our students academically, but we’re also nurturing and modeling empathy in all that we do. I searched through my photos and was so pleased that the moment was captured.