Round two or second semester started this last week for Oak Hill. I have a new batch of students to play The Sims with. I was happy with how first semester’s game play went but I certainly hope to improve upon what I did this time round. Here are some modifications I plan to make.
1. I will play The Sims with my students around 10 times over the next 18 weeks of school. First semester my goal was to play every Friday. Over the first few weeks of game play that was fine. However, as we got deeper into the semester the engagement that I had the first few weeks from students started to tail off a bit. So I will shrink the game play time a bit.
2. I will have students have “something” in their hands. This is similar to point #1 but the first few weeks of playing The Sims I could keep the entire rooms attention just by playing the game. That attention started to decrease as the weeks went. So from the beginning this semester kids will have something of relevance in front of them. Vocab words, writing ideas, outline a blog post, or something I have yet to think of. Since I have one copy of The Sims and only one controller for a class period I think the “task on table” will help with the level of attention.
3. Teacher in charge of The Sims. First semester I never took control of The Sims. This semester I think I will. I was lucky enough to have a Sims junkie first semester. He was much better than I at playing the game so I yeilded to his expertise. However, to control teachable moments a little more I will from time to time sub in and be the game master instead of just the discussion leader. Especially if I am not getting the relevance that I need to see.
4. Blogging. I don’t think I will change what I did at all. Students enjoyed them and it was an easy way to get kids of all makes and models to express their thoughts. What I loved to read the most from first semester blogs was postings by quiet students. Students who either chose not to or had difficulty expressing their views verbally. I felt I really got to know them much better. And as a teacher the best thing about blogs is that I could grade them whenever I wanted. I could grade them from home without taking papers home. I could grade them from my parents house while visiting for the day…or whatever. The assignment and grading is portable.