Monday, August 10, 2009

A Closer Look at the Game

In Global Challenge (a curriculum for 6th – 12th grades) students answer questions in seven different categories in order to earn points, money and political influence. Before this begins, they put together a map, are distributed different countries, and are required to do a great deal of research. They must know the per capita income, population, major industry, capital and something of interest for each country they are given. Also, before the game even starts, they must put together a philosophy or guide to how they will play the game.

Students read each chapter of an assigned text, and formulate their own 20 questions each week – divided into vocabulary (4), historical fact (5), geography (4), people (4), trivia (1) and something from another core class (math, science, English or social studies) (1). These questions become the basis for the game and for future tests. In other words, they will need to write out as many questions as are specified above. These questions can be turned in to the honors students for quick review, then over to the teacher. Points will be awarded if the questions are correct and useable. United Nations members will be required to review these, make adjustments, and then turn them into official game questions. Every new unit the teacher introduces results in the making of new questions. At the end of the unit, the teacher may devise a test or quiz over the material covered by game questions. This way, if a student does poorly during the game, she or he can compensate by scoring high on quizzes and tests. These should be handed in each week, and turned into useable cash upon being graded (1 pt. = $1,000).

Students sit in a horseshoe configuration facing the map. Game play progresses clockwise as students or teams (depending on phase of the game) are asked three questions. Each question has a value of 5 points or $5,000. If the student gets two of the three correct, she or he has the opportunity to declare peace on or take over the country in question. This continues for a specified number of rounds until game play stops (usually 20 rounds).

At this point winners are declared in several categories (see rule book).

Game play moves the students through four stages of history: Nomad, city-state, nation State, and Super-Power. Each stage is symbolically represented by number of students in a team (to represent the state of world history that is being studied). The classroom will steadily evolve (order out of chaos) as allegiances are formed, until they reach the Super-Power stage. Just as in the cold war, the two sides square off. There is an optional fifth stage, which opens the class up to creative discussion of where they think the world is headed.

Game play can stop at anytime, either by peaceful treaty between players or when 50% or 90 countries of the world have achieved the status of peace. Peace is declared on a country after the player correctly answers two questions and decides not to attack anyone. At various points during the game, the teacher may wish to insert a unit plan or engage the class in discussion about the relevance to history or current political conditions.

Teams research their countries, paint and piece together a giant world map and study textbook and other relevant reading material in preparation. If they answer their questions correctly, they will earn $5,000 in Global Challenge money, and will potentially achieve peace or the takeover of another country.

Every country taken over in Global Challenge earns the player or team the current Per Capita Income of that country. There are equal bonuses to work for peace. As a result of all these incentives, students study furiously in an attempt to do well at the game. They also - and this one is somewhat hard to believe - ask to do extra work. On a weekly basis, students will come up with all kinds of ideas and the teacher may find them asking to compile data, create a chart, do detail work on the map, compile new game questions, create theme songs, or banners, make anthems or team logos.

Students engage in a fury of activity communicating facts, ideas and plans to one another both at school and at home. There is never a question of homework - as it is an ongoing activity. Students can easily access and exchange all kinds of information at all hours of the day and night, by use of the Internet. This is an ongoing, emergent, cross-curricular phenomenon.

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