Saturday, February 4, 2012

Classroom Game Lesson - Critical Thinking and Writing

I dug up a lesson this week that I used to use in my Pre-Calculus classes. The seniors would graduate a few weeks before school was out, so for those remaining juniors I would set them loose on this very popular lesson where I attempted to teach critical thinking using a variety of board and card games. It would last about five class periods.

Here's a PDF of the last version of this assignment that I used. (It was about this time that I left the math classroom to work as the Instructional Technology Coordinator.)

While the students loved these days and we all had fun, I worked each year to improve the focus so that they were objectively thinking about the games and what they were doing. You'll note in the handout above that I continually emphasize thinking, clear communication and analysis of what was going on in the game. I have to admit, though, that I never got very far in that endeavor. Even with the excellent students that ended up in that class, the fun got most of the attention.

This served to alert me to the importance of setting game lessons in context. Now when I introduce a game design lesson (usually involving computer games) I start by downplaying the games and emphasizing the knowledge and skills that we want the students to leave with.

Here are the games that I used in this lesson, with links to their pages on the Boardgame Geek. I'm sure a lot of other games that would be perfect for this lesson have come out since 2008 when I last assigned it, but reading up on these pages will certainly draw your attention to additional options. (Some titles have different names at BGG than the editions I used on the worksheet. They are essentially the same games.)


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