Archive for November, 2012

Notes on the spy game

We just had parent teacher conferences and one of the students who came with her mother made a special point of showing what we are doing with the spy game. So this is a good time to talk a little about what’s happened so far. In Algebra 2, the students are collecting XP towards leveling up their 1930’s spy avatars.

The story so far

Students created their avatars with combat, stealth and technical skills. They divided 30 points among strength, dexterity, stamina, perception, and charisma. They also picked a art skill (Antiquities, Old Masters, 18th and 19th century art, Modern Art, and Tribal & Indigenous Art). I made some collector cards (from the period) and each student got one. Why an art skill? This is their cover, that they are working as art consultants, based in London. They were told that someone was trying to steal British naval secrets.

Chaotic storytelling

I read about this solution to the problem of the GM having to dump a lot of story and details on the players, namely, giving the players multiple pieces that they actively piece together to create the story. This aims to bring the student/players more in to the story. So I made little cards that had some of the background and distributed them to the students. The students read them and discussed them. I told them they would receive “mission points” based on their engagement (very valuable to have later on). Then I started weaving clues in different places in the class (more later).


November 11, 2012 at 10:28 pm Leave a comment

What works so far

  1. The XP system motivates the students – Students see the updated leaderboard each day and see the results of their completion of assignments and successful mastery of concept quizzes. When they reach certain milestones and level up, they get an item for their avatar and they can improve their skills or player traits. Since the levels are easy to achieve at first then require more XP, weaker students are also leveling up.
  2. Students have a different attitude to the class – Because I push the line between game and class, students pay attention to changes in the classroom environment. What new clue is there somewhere in the classroom? How does this assignment possibly relate to goals in the game?
  3. The game gives opportunities for situated learning – Like Jasper Woodbury, when students are engaged in a story, a drama, then the problem solving takes on a different meaning for the students. ┬áNot always, but often enough, I see a sense of ocus on solving an applied math problem that connects to the pirate story or the espionage narrative.
  4. The teacher really looks at the material and is better motivated – Like other teachers, I seem to have a million tasks involved with teaching. But figuring out new items, new artifacts, new puzzles motivates me. Is anyone researching what motivates teachers to teach well? At least I have a different answer to “when will we ever use this?’

November 4, 2012 at 10:29 pm Leave a comment