Jared Fishman: A look in the Classroom

“Over the course of two weeks, my students engaged in an extremely worthwhile activity in which they designed games with the express purpose of reflecting something they learned about medieval Japan.  In some cases, students designed games with entirely original ideas, while others based their models on games they play at home.  Some examples of student work include “Battle of the Uji”, in which students took on the role of feudal lords each vying for power over one another.  “A Samurai’s Journey”, and “Emperor’s Choice”, each took the concept of Monopoly and branched off into different directions, with one game focusing on the major milestones in the life of a samurai, while the latter was a mechanism for understanding the social pyramid and hierarchy in Japanese society. 

Students designed everything on their own, including all of the rules, gameboards, and maps, as well as written materials that included a creative abstract focusing on the philosophy of the game.  Not only did the students have to playtest and present their games to the class, but they also wrote a full blown essay describing the process and what they would do differently with their game if they had more time.  The best part of the project (besides the playing element!) was the amount of buy-in on the part of the students, as well as the varying skills students were able to practice and refine while designing their games.  I credit NASAGA as well as my teaching partner, Steve Fitzpatrick for the impetus behind designing such a far reaching and ultimately successful project.  I greatly look forward to sharing some of these methods at NASAGA 2019, as they can be applied in so many venues including schools, businesses, and other professional settings.”

Below is a condensed lesson plan for the Japanese Game Project.

Game Design Project: Directions – Mr. Fishman/Mr. Fitz – 2/25/19

In this culminating project of their Japan unit, the students were to engage in game development, creating their own games based upon on a topic they enjoyed from their text.

  1. First and foremost the students had to choose the size of their group which ranged from working solo to being a trio. Those that chose to work together were required to engage in collaborative game building in order to be successful.
  2. The games were required to be playable in 30-40 minutes. In order for this to be successful, students had to closely monitor time during playtests.
  3. The games had to be physical and tangible. In this case, they required a game board.
  4. Students were provided dice, cards, markers, etc… for the use of making their games.

Students will need to complete the following, IN THIS ORDER (you cannot go on to the next part until your work has been checked)

  1. 1) a 1-2 page abstract that explains:a) the purpose of the game (how to win). b) The educational value of the game. c) What you’re trying to reflect about Japan
  2. 2) a 1-2 page creative introduction to the game that:a) gets people excited to play. b) Introduces the game effectively. c) Sets the stage for the setting and content of Japan.
  3. 3) a 1-2 page document explaining the rules to the game:a) the rules need to be simple and straightforward. b) These should be basic rules
  4. 4) a physical gameboard + map of Japan:a) the gameboard should entice people to want to play. b) it should look as professional as you’re capable of making it c) And a creative way to make a map

Students were graded on their games, based on a scaled rubric as well as and individual performance grade based upon their reflections. These two grading components followed the two weeks of work the students had.

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