Today was story line day. Students brainstormed all day and filled up three storyboards with ideas for the alternate reality game. There were some very good ideas! At the end of the day, I asked third block to go ahead and vote. I had already talked to each block about continuing to move forward by allowing each block to make decisions as they came up. That way, we would have a chance to finish the game by the end of the year!
The winner is…. A story inspired by the TV show Flash Forward.
The students seemed antsy today. Brainstorming really is hard work. By the end of the day leading brainstorming all day, I’m exhausted! I’m not sure they are comfortable without a vision of what the game will be. It is too ambiguous right now. I’m hopeful that tomorrow feels more focused now that we have our story line.
I didn’t have the chance to blog last night about our progress, but we made some good developments. One thing we decided is that our plane crash on our crazy island will correlate with the plane crash in the Hudson River from back in January. We had some discussion about connecting it to the 9/11 attacks but that brings with it so many negative emotions and the Hudson River crash is really associated with positive feelings.
I also think we have found a good connection with Manhattan Island and the problems that occur there. One student found a really good graphic (below) that has helped us identify the major issues that Manhattan faces.
(You can see the graphic in context here.)
So, students in second block decided on four issues from Manhattan to make a connection to our crazy island and to ratios and proportions. The four Manhattan issues are:
1. Homeless/housing issues – When our characters crash on the island they are certainly homeless! The students are thinking about how they can make a connection to ratios and proportions. Thoughts are with ideas such as the ratio of materials needed to construct housing or the ratio of shelters per person, etc. I was really proud of the way that two of the students were working together yesterday. They each brainstormed ideas. Then they compared and contrasted their ideas using a Venn Diagram and made some decisions about what to keep and what to throw out. Here is a photo of them with some of their work (no faces for privacy reasons):
2. Health Issues/Swine Flu – This is probably the one that has been developed the most so far. One of our characters, likely Kyle the pilot, will become ill. The group is researching homeopathic remedies for the flu, which includes vinegar and garlic. They are thinking there will be a ratio of ingredients and then that the players will have to calculate the proportion of ingredients that Kyle will need for a certain number of days.
3. Rats/Rodents – The students are researching ways to naturally rid themselves of rats. They are looking into traps and natural predators.
4. Transportation – This one is still a puzzle to me but I know they will come up with something! I think they are looking at how to get around the island, but I’m not sure how it will all take shape.
Today we made some exciting breakthroughs on our alternate reality game! I was becoming worried about where “reality” would actually work its way back into our story. Today I got my answer!
In second block, we started talking about the plot and all the students started playing ideas off each other. They came up with one of characters, Brooke, having a real map. It started as a map of a mall since she loves to shop, but moved to a map of New York since that is where she is from. This real map would mirror the island map and could be used to guide the characters into “balancing” the island so they can get off. We searched for maps of New York in second block and then also searched for real problems in New York that could mirror some of the problems that we had come up with for the island during our plot development work.
In third block we were continuing the work of second block. We decided that since Manhattan is an island that it might be good to have Manhattan Island mirror our “Lost” island. There is a nice symmetry to that, isn’t there?!? They also did some searching for problems on Manhattan Island that could mirror our problems on the island. We put our connection ideas on a new panel of our storyboard (pictured above). I’m thinking we could link to those real news stories and real maps in order to keep the reality part of the alternate reality game. Exciting developments!
In addition to our character work today, second and third blocks also began working on the plot. We are thinking that the island is off kilter a little which is why it holds such mysterious powers. In other words, some things are out of proportion on the island which is what the characters will have to fix in order to get off the island. Finally, the math comes into play!!
This was difficult work because we all made a agreement in our project requirements that we would “hide the math” as one student put it. What we are saying is that we want the characters to have have an authentic reason to solve ratio and proportion problems, not just one of those games where you solve random math problems to get food or something. We equate it to those little games where you shoot an alien that has an equivalent fraction. In those little games, there is no story line, there is no real connection between the alien and the fraction. When we play those games, we get bored easily. We wanted our game to be different. So, we set high standards to “hide the math.”
So after two blocks worth of work, we only had the seven ideas seen in the photo above that fit our project requirements. Those seven ideas are good ones though!
It was interesting because in third block, I was getting them up to speed on what happened in second block with the plot development. There were three plot cards from second block and the students in third block thought that the second block students had slacked off during class. It wasn’t until they had to think of more ideas that “hid the math” that they realized how hard it is!
This is the math meat and I’m excited about the ways students are making connections to the way we use ratios and proportions in the real world! We’ll continue to develop more ideas on Wednesday.