Saturday, 31 January 2015

Survival Provocation: Learning Concepts Through Games

I love mixing it up in the classroom (and taking it outside of it too). No day of learning should ever be the same - it's one of the great things about teaching. Each time we begin a new unit, we try to tackle it from a new approach.

For our new ecosystems unit, we wanted to get our students thinking about the topic in an active way. The game survival is a fun and energetic game that instantly gets the students thinking about food webs, energy sources and strategising to survive.

The game is simple - stay alive. Each student is given a card to represent a different part of the food chain. They are herbivore, carnivore, omnivore, human or disease. The most powerful is the disease who can attack any of the players below, humans can eat omnivore, carnivores, herbivores and so forth down the food chain. There are a limited number of players who begin as disease and human.

Players will run around the game space. In our case, we used the basketball court and set up various obstacles and hiding places around it. Energy and food cards were hidden around the playing field that players could collect. If someone from higher up on the food chain catches you, you must give them one of your energy or food cards. If you have no energy or food cards left, you are out of the game.

This activity prompted a lot of great discussion following the game about what ecosystems actually are and how they work. We discussed why it was more difficult for some to stay alive compared to other players.  In addition, the students generated some excellent ideas for how to change the game as well such as:
- having an antidote for the disease so you can come back alive/ regain energy cards
- adding additional players at any level to create an imbalance in the ecosystem
- herbivores that are poisonous as a way of self-defence
- changing the actual ecosystem the game was played in
- students taking on specific animals within the game

We will play this game a few additional times throughout our unit using variations and hope to incorporate other active games to engage our learners.

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