Posted by Tomaz Lasic on 17th November 2009
Source: ‘Lucky Roll’ http://www.flickr.com/photos/chaehbom/2246451899/
It’s been a while since I wrote anything ‘moodling’ but after this morning’s class I can’t help but quickly share this little gem.
In my Year 9 and 10 classes (both deemed ‘lower end’, damned labels…), I am trying to teach research skills, critical thinking skills and a bit of critical pedagogy to boot this term. It’s my last term at this school so I thought I’d go out with a bang
Last night, I created a monopoly board in a Moodle wiki. Nothing fancy, just a simple table in wiki’s HTML editor (no HTML knowledge required, just a bit of tinkering with 13 x 13 table in the enlarged editor). I entered the correct colour fields, nominal values of fields, utilities and stations. I then created a wiki page for each student by enclosing their names with hard brackets on the main wiki page (eg. [Matthew] ) and copied the table with instructions into each personal page. This way, students simply click their name of the main wiki page, click ‘Edit’ and go for it. If you are not so handy with Moodle wikis, here is a “2 Minute Moodle” on it.
At the most basic level of the task, students have to find median house prices in Perth suburbs and enter them accordingly on the board, as well as find names of train stations and utilities. Basic internet search demonstrated – easily, but not for all.
They have to create 10 of their own Chance and Community Chest cards that need to reflect the realities of life in our city – more digging around and seeing what kids know, value (and not).
If they choose to do so (commensurate with higher achievement too), kids can come up with their own monopoly topic/theme – eg. Swan River (main river in Perth) and write their own ‘values’, cards and rules. But they need to ‘keep it real’ and back what they write with info they find.
Because this whole thing is in a wiki, kids can share and help each other out at any time. All boards are easily printable, exportable and of course – ultimately playable.
We had our first run this morning and I sent out a tweet: I wish I could bottle this engagement & open it on a bad day.
While the kids are beavering on their own game, I’m creating my own version – but with a twist. The idea came from a passing comment by a student, while brainstorming for open ended questions about Monopoly a few days ago:
“What if Monopoly was like real life. You sort of get your chance card when you are born, don’t you?” (who says kids aren’t great philosophers)
We have done a little bit of work of chances and choices in life and the difference between them. In light of that, my Chance card will have a theme “chances” in life, Community Chest will be “choices” in life. The cards will have statements with NO assigned further action (eg. none of the ‘Get $100). A Community Chest card may be “You fail to graduate from high school”. I will design a few sample cards, the rest will be decided by class before we settle and design our ‘Monopolife’.
The statements will (I hope!) lead to an open ended discussion and negotiation between players how far should the player go forward, backward, penalties, advances etc. And it is this discussion I am most interested in, to see how kids reason, argue, feel, value on their own terms.
I am hoping for a discussion with questions like: What can we do with choices in life? What about chances? Should we simply give up? Why are choices and chances (not) the same? What if you were really rich/poor and had different chances? etc.
Those are in no textbook I have seen but they are life. A life where chances of those with the most are often presented as universal choices, breeding resentment, stress and, so often misery. And vice versa. And all in between in all its messiness, through lack (and oversupply) of understanding and care.
We may not ‘succeed’ in everything planned with this game, but if we enjoy next week or two in class, develop some valuable life skills, and see each other as fellow, struggling, hoping human beings – our work will be done.