A Purposeful Online Game Experience – Quandary

With all of the discussion around how much screen time children should or shouldn’t be getting and with it being Screen Free Week, I was intrigued when I came across this online game with the goal of engaging students in practicing decision making with the focus on ethical issues and solving moral dilemmas.

The question Quandary in the Classroom raises for me is: In what ways can technology in the form of games challenge students to practice critical thinking, decision making and collaboration?

“The aim of the game Quandary is to solve moral dilemmas on behalf of and for the good of the colony Braxos and you are the captain of the colony who is in charge of making those decisions.”

Children are given facts and problems then empowered to make decisions.  One little guy in the video says “I come from a big family so I never get to make decisions..” It was cute, yet sad and probably true for a lot of children in all sorts of families big and small.

Another little guy in the video says “The game had a pretty good UI…” !  He knows what a UI is?!  Impressive!  (User Interface for anyone reading and wondering…)

His comment reminds us that children are living in a world much different than the world we grew up in, particularly if you were born before 1990… Which makes me think that technology based games that engage kids and teens to think independently and practice decision making based on ethical principles is nothing short of really awesome.

What’s more is that it’s a free online game! Check it out. What do you think?

This game reminds me of ‘The Adventures of Meep on Earth’ game that my team and I created back in 2000 to help children manage emotions and feelings of anger. As our alien, Meep, experienced new encounters on his journey on earth for the first time, he would model ways to self regulate his emotions.  Children learned the technique of Stop – take a deep breath, Think and Talk – express how you feel. That was back in the days of cd-roms! I bet that UI kid doesn’t know what a cd-rom is!

Don’t correct! …Oops, did I just correct you?

FRAJIL sign, Building confidence in kids, http://keepingcreativityalive.com

Like all parents in this world, I’m learning as I go along. In the early days of my first child’s craft projects I’d hover over her making sure that she did as she was ‘supposed to’.. putting the marshmallows on the lines just so and making sure the eyes went in the ‘right’ place. I’ve long tossed that approach out the window in favour for not just creativity’s sake but for the sake of confidence building.

Early on I realized that when I interfered or corrected, I was taking the joy out of the experience. A shift would occur in my child in which she would immediately lose interest. She’d give up her power and didn’t want to play anymore. She felt like she must have been doing it wrong, or worse couldn’t do it at all and didn’t want to even try. Think about when you are trying something for the first time and struggle a bit. If you had someone standing over your shoulder ready to intervene you’d probably lose your focus and motivation too. I know I would.

That’s why today I make every effort to stand back and observe. I resist the urge to assist by taking joy in watching discovery unfold.

The FRAJIL photo above.. let me tell you how that came to be… V’s aunt, a trained Montessori teacher (and Masters in Montessori Grad!) was over for a visit. Violet takes great joy in giving people gifts and especially to those she have an extra special place in her heart for, like Katie. Violet created a gift for Katie using the play dough we made the day before. To be honest, I can’t remember what it was.. I’m not sure I even got to see it before it went into this envelope. In fact, knowing V it was probably meant as a surprise for Katie to open when she got home! V sealed the envelope but made sure to announce to Katie: “you have to be very careful with this!”

I was only half listening at the time, but I think I piped up and said “You should put a sign on it that says FRAGILE.” V immediately ran over to her Art Station to grab a marker (looks like we need new markers!) and asked how do you spell FRAGILE? Katie, being the amazing teacher that she is, started sounding it out “FFFFF.” Violet listened carefully then put her head down to write the letter associated with each sound one after the next. Once she was done she proudly put her marker away and handed the gift to Katie who now had the reminder to be careful with her FRAJIL gift.

We, adults, sort of smiled at one another feeling proud of V’s interest and motivation to write. Without Katie in our lives I’m pretty sure I would have corrected V in the spelling of FRAGILE but I’m so glad that’s not the case. Being right about the spelling is so much less important than building the confidence in trying and sustaining the interest to learn. The correct spelling will come.

Maybe Tomorrow

Much like The Little Boy Story, this totally breaks my heart:

Maybe Tomorrow
by Lindy T. Redmond

Me do it,” said the 2 year old,
“Mom, me will do it now,”
“Oh no, my dear,” she replied,
“I must show you how!”
“Let me try it,” he called at 3
“Let me make my bed,”
“No, you will have lumps in it,
Color this instead.”
 
So she placed the coloring book
Near him on the table,
“Now try to color in the lines
The best you are able.”
“But Mom, I want to draw the world
And all the butterflies,
I want to make the mountains tall,
And make rainbows in the skies.”
 
Color carefully,” she replied,
And color the flowers red,
Color the sky all light blue
Stay in the lines,” she said.
And as the 4 year old one day
His shoes he tried to tie,
His father said, “I’ll teach you how
And later YOU can try.”
 
And so it was, from birth to 5,
The others told him HOW,
They gave him restraints and set the laws
Of what they would allow.
Then one day the yellow bus
Came right up to his door,
The little boy thought for sure
That NOW he could explore.
 
He now could dream and imagine
And experiment on his own,
He could paint HIS colors
And investigate all alone.
 
He could soar to the highest mountains,
He could dream in his mind
He could nurture his talents,
His gifts he could now fine.
 
The teacher came into his room
And greeted everyone
“Take out your crayons and paper,
we’re going to have some fun.”
“Use this tracer to make a bunny
And neatly print your name,
They’ll all be brown with long ears,
They’ll all look just the same.”
 
But I don’t want my bunny
To stand up straight and tall
I want him crouched among the grass
And to be white, that’s all.”
“They’ll be nicer if we keep
Them looking alike too,
Now please sit down & start your work
We’ve got a lot to do.”
 
So slowly he took his seat,
His eyes had lost their thrill,
He now knew just what he’d face,
Monotony and drill.
“Maybe later,” thought the lad,
“She’ll let me make my own,
Maybe tomorrow I can paint
My picture all alone.”
 
So on the next clear morning,
They took their crayons out,
“Oh boy, I’ll make the sky orange
I’ll be different, without a doubt.”
“Color carefully,” she replied,
“And color the flowers red,
Color the sky light blue
Stay in the lines,” she said.
“Maybe tomorrow, maybe never.”
Thought the boy as he colored the sky light blue.