Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

John Hunter TED talk

John Hunter, whose World Peace Game for primary school students has been mentioned before on PaxSims, recent delivered a TED talk on his work. It is now available on the TED blog.

One response to “John Hunter TED talk

  1. Rex Brynen 01/05/2011 at 3:13 pm

    Richard posted these comments on his own use of games in middle school teaching elsewhere on the blog–I’ve moved them here for better fit.



    Richard Marcus 30/04/2011 at 3:26 pm (Edit)
    I developed various games and simulations, including having an article published in the Middle Ground Magazine. Let me know if you would like me to share any other ideas. :

    Fostering a Fun Place to Learn

    In 17 years as a middle school teacher, I have learned an important lesson about young adolescents: students will work hard for their education when it is active, challenging, and fun.The teacher is not the only expert in the classroom. Students also enjoy learning from each other, and it is important for us to recognize and respect their intelligence and their contributions. One year, for example I taught a student who had spent the previous school year in Australia. Recognizing that he was more familiar with that country than me. I asked him to prepare a lesson plan and teach his classmates about the land down under. I later gave other students similar opportunities to be the teacher for a day when they selected different countries and cultures for study.
    Over the years I also have learned that students take more ownership in their studies when they can explore ideas through their innate sense of play. One unit I developed focused on teenage problems and challenges. My students selected specific social issues they wanted to explore. Working in teams, they researched the topics, prepared lesson plans. then taught the class. In the course of their research, the students contacted such organizations as Alaskans’ for Drug Free Youth, Ketchikan Youth Services, and the Department of Health and Social Studies. The students discussed legal and ethical issues, the implications for adolescent health. and possible solutions. They also read books about these topics wrote cards and poetry to children with disabling diseases, and sponsored a dance to raise money for a student with leukemia.

    For the culminating exercise of this unit the students wrote plays about their chosen topics. One of the best productions was Tobacco on Trial which featured a client who sued a tobacco company over the wrongful death of a spouse. The key questions the student jurors had to resolve: Did the litigant prove that the spouse’s death was caused by tobacco? And did the company fail to issue proper warnings about the dangers of cigarette smoking? To help them prepare for the trial, students listened to old radio shows and examined ads in which physicians served as spokespersons for the tobacco industry. The trial was so engaging that students later decided to use the same playwriting strategy to demonstrate what they had learned from on of the stories of Edgar Allen Poe. In a play about the The Tale Heart.-,.for example, the student prosecutor tried to prove that the defendant committed the crime with intent while the student defense attorney tried to prove that his client was legally insane. ” .’
    , .., Another year students in my geography classes published a 50 page visitor’s guide of their home in Ketchikan, Alaska including information about restaurants, hotels, stores and athletics Although my students knew that geography includes the study of landscapes, maps and physical boundaries I wanted them to understand that geography also involves learning about the way people live, work and play. In the course of their research, the students uncovered a wealth of new information about their community.

    One of my favorite strategies for energizing students is a game called Informational Pursuit. This game enables students to show off their knowledge of basic skills and sends a message to the school community that academic competitions can be just as entertaining as athletics. I have found nothing else that motivates the students and improves their learning as much as this game. Students compete on teams of four or five and answer questions about grammar, literature and vocabulary. Each game lasts only a few minutes, which allows us to complete about 15 games in a typical class period. After playing for seven months, the top teams advance to the playoffs. In the final game, the best seventh grade team competes against the team of eighth-graders who won the previous year.

    Games and simulations have made my classes fun and successful for students. These activities allow me to demand more from my students without incurring behavior problems. I hope these ideas will help with your classes.

    Richard Marcus, who previously taught English, reading, and geography at Schoenbar Junior High School in Ketchikan, Alaska, recently moved to Bellingham, Washington.

    October 1997 Middle Ground Magazine


    Richard Marcus 30/04/2011 at 3:21 pm
    Informational Pursuit

    By PAULAPFELBECK Ketchikan Daily News Staff Writer

    Schoenbar Junior ,High seventh grader reading teacher Richard Marcus leads his students through the third round in the final game of InformationaJ Pursuit. The final game pitted eighth graders against seventh graders; the older students emerged victorious.

    Learning is a game in Richard Marcus’ seventh-grade reading class at Schoenbar Junior High School,
    Marcus has been putting his students through the paces since October in a grueling contest he calls Informational Pursuit, where seventh graders earn points by correctly answering questions about the grammar, literature, and vocabulary taught in the class.

    “It’s a motivator,” Marcus said, “There’s no way I can get these kids to learn these items like this does,”
    The game works like this: A panel of six students are asked a series of questions about the books read in class, suffixes and prefixes, vocabu- lary words, concepts found in literature and an extra section on travel to coincide with reports students wrote this fall. Questions are worth 5; 10 or 15 points.
    Throughout the fall, Marcus used the I game as a foil for the information his students were learning. Eventually all six of his classes were winnowed down to the top scorers in each class, leading to a final showdown recently between the seventh-grade champions, fifth period, and last year’s Informational Pursuit winners, now in the eighth grade.

    The eighth graders were in a tough situation, Marcus said since losing to the seventh graders would be embarrassing.

    The final game was a see-saw battle between the two teams, with the seventh graders leading throughout most of the competition, but with the eighth graders finally triumphant in the last three rounds.

    “It was a very exciting game,” Marcus said.

    Marcus made the game more competitive by adding a twist to the final game. Students not only had to answer the questions correctly. but they also had to play a variation of Hangman, receiving a letter for each correct answer to spell the title of a book read in class. Students also had to correctly identify the author of the book. Each round had a different book.

    The seventh graders won the first four rounds. But the eighth graders marched back to confront the seventh graders with some wins of their own. After 10 rounds, the score was eighth grade 6, seventh grade 4.

    The game’s lead was passed back and forth between the two teams, eventually giving the eighth graders a one-round advantage 7-6.

    “Then it was the last game and I didn’t want an overtime,” Marcus said, adding that the school buses were starting to line up outside the school.

    The eighth graders won the last round,winning the game 8-6 by correctly identifying the author of Rip Van Winkle as Washington Irving.

    Mr. Marcus’ Informational Pursuit Rules

    2 teams of 4-5 students on each team playing at one time other students watching
    (games usually take between 2-5 minutes)

    5 pts. questions- review or easy questions
    10 pts. questions medium difficult, almost new or review
    15 pts questions new or difficult information

    Students select 5, 10 or 15 pts questions
    First answer out mouth counts cannot change it
    No conferring with teammates or others
    If answer is correct place an “X” or “O” on a tic tac toe board drawn on the chalkboard,
    If answer is incorrect, next person to go on opposing team has option to answer that question or select a 5, 10, or 15 pts question
    team that wins tic tac toe game remains seated and team in third row moves into empty seats to play game..the losing team goes to the 5th or last row and all teams move up one row
    if there is a cat’s game, team with most “X”s or “O”s wins
    Playoffs: Teams in each class with the most wins will be in the playoffs
    (I had five classes and the team with the most wins in four out of the five classes went to the playoffs. The last row was for five all-star students. An all star was a student who was not in the four top teams, but had the most accumulative points compared to all the students. Students who wanted to be on the all-star team usually only went for 15 pointers.)

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