Afterschool Enrichment Program

projectpicsWe will continue our core initiative of after-school enrichment programming that we have been providing to the community for the last four years. Participant students will join us once a week after-school at our educational center (or we will come to a hosting location) for a 2-hour game session, in which we will engage in collaborative storytelling. Each session will have a maximum of six participants and one or two educators who serve as the narrator and game master.

The beginning 15-20 minutes of each game session will start with a mini-lesson teaching the curriculum of role-play. During these lessons, we introduce the participants to the concepts and related skills of playing, designing and creating, and ultimately game mastering role-playing games. We encourage metacognitive learning by making our participants aware of the activities in which they are engaging, and reward in-game use of the concepts learned in our mini-lessons.

The remainder of the time spent with our participants is at the individual gaming tables, where we engage them in the practice of playing, running, designing and creating role-playing games. Most days, this will mean following a narrative that is controlled by either the educator(s) in charge of that particular classroom, or conversely, the narrative may be controlled by one of the students. Some days, we may take a break from role play to spend time developing individual or group projects pertaining to the subject of role play, including but not limited to: adventure ‘modules’, related artistic projects, game design, or the development and creation of artifacts used in the activity of role-playing games, such as the creation of miniature models and terrain.

Our purpose is to provide an overall framework of reference for the activity of role-playing games, and to build a community of practice in which our learners become creators, and work together as a community toward mastery of the related activities and concepts. As learners develop a deeper interest in one or more facets of role-playing games, we can work with them on furthering their own ideas and projects, whether it be storytelling, the creation of gaming artifacts, or the development of gaming narratives and supplements. We have an opportunity to shepherd these creative endeavors and even help the learners to produce, design, develop and perhaps sell their own game-related goods and services. Part of our philosophy is to build a guild-like, multi-tiered approach toward mastery, and promoting engaged and motivated learners from participants in the program to assistants, game masters, and game designers is part of our overall plan.

Adventure Gaming Summer Day Camp

REGISTER FOR ADVENTURE GAMING CAMP 2016!

One of our most popular initiatives is a week-long summer day camp which blends the experience of tabletop role-playing games, physical athletic activity, and hands-on, skills-based learning projects in an interconnected, immersive week of play and learning.

Our purpose is to blend the experience of collaboratively created narratives with the learning of thematically and contextually connected skills. In some cases, the outcome of the skills-projects bears directly on the outcome of specific narrative scenes and situations in the game. We believe that by providing these context-rich knowledge ‘hooks’, participants stand a far stronger chance of information recall and integration of contextual knowledge into their lives.

Our 2015 season was an unqualified success, and we have received universal positive reports from parents and participants alike as to the engagement with and overall enjoyment of our programming. Further, we have received reports from parents that their children continue to demonstrate the skills they learned in camp at home. For example, some campers have prepared for their families the same meals we co-created for lunch during camp. Other campers continue to practice skills and activities (ie: electronics, hand-crafts and outdoor games) that we introduced to them during the camp week.

Our plan is to expand our summer day camp offering in 2016 to four weeks instead of three, and to increase weekly enrollment to 48 participants with eight separate game tables. We have confirmed with The Marin School to use their campus as the location for our summer day camp, and they have indicated that they have up to 9 classrooms available for our use, as well as the use of their performing arts building and kitchen.

REGISTER FOR ADVENTURE GAMING CAMP 2016!

 

Content-Based Classroom Curricular Units

One important initiative is the delivery of self-contained learning experiences and games specifically designed to teach content which is aligned with the needs of classroom educators and homeschoolers.

In the spring of 2015, through Iocari Games, we piloted our first curriculum unit for two 8th grade social studies classes at Miller Creek Middle School. Under Iocari, we designed our initial game to provide a content-rich context for situated learning, wherein students were given individual ‘characters’ to play, and were organized into “family groups” that represented a specific socio-economic background. We then asked the players to collaboratively craft solutions to complex problems derived from a narrative we presented as news headlines covering technological, social and political developments spanning 60 years of history. Alongside the problems we posed to specific individuals and family groups, we engaged the students with a simulated economic model which served to exemplify the growing disparity between the classes and between the conditions in the northern and southern states, and emulate actual economic exchanges.

Our purpose was to create an engaging environment and narrative that would stimulate learning, critical thinking and problem-solving, and to teach empathy for the life of an everyday individual from the period. History comes alive when a player engages with events as though they were directly involved. A deeper understanding of the causes of economic division and ultimately the root causes for the American Civil War emerged for players as a result of “living through” the experiences presented as opposed to simply reading about them in a textbook. By the end of the game, students had developed a much richer and more nuanced concept of the history and living conditions of the day.

Although the individual classes played the game only for a few hours a day, we witnessed a marked increase in motivation and engagement which expressed itself in several measurable ways. For example, players in the game would demonstrate insights from the time period that they could only have gathered through research outside of class and through discussion with their classmates. Students would engage in strategic conversation and collaboration in breaks and during lunch, planning out their next moves for the game. We also received reports that the students discussed the game with friends and family not directly involved in playing the game. Students exercised creative license to craft novel solutions, including skills-retraining and entering into partnerships and marriages between families. Players demonstrated divergent thinking and engaged their creativity in ways that a standard, lecture-driven curriculum does not support.

Through Iocari Games we intend to continue to develop this and other curricular units to meet the needs of teachers in public, private and home-school settings. Through The Game Academy, we wish to implement and deliver these curricular units to a broader audience. We envision providing these units as packages that educators can run for themselves in their own classrooms, and under The Game Academy, we intend to deliver a training program to teach educators how to be effective game masters for the materials, and to provide instruction and support for the more complex parts of the game.

Through The Game Academy, we also hope to engage with home-schooling and other alternative education families, and to implement our curricular units as means not only to teach specific subject matter of interest to these students, but also to provide the benefits of social-emotional learning and collaboration that they may be missing in their particular contexts.

Community Educational Center

One of our primary concerns will be locating and establishing a community educational center which will serve as our central office, but will be furnished with a number of ‘classrooms’ in which we can run our class day and after-school programming throughout the school year. While we are capable of bringing our initiatives to external sites as needed by our client organizations, there is a clear advantage to having our own classrooms which have been designed and furnished specifically for our particular educational needs. Our mission calls for the integration of various educational technologies, as well as having access to our collection of teaching aids and artifacts that are difficult to pack up and bring with us to external sites.

In establishing an educational center, we can provide our program with exactly the resources it needs to flourish. We can also share our space with other educational organizations, or with student groups that may have needs for educational activities in alignment with our purpose and mission.

The size and scope of our development will be determined by our funding opportunities, but briefly, we hope to find or create a space that allows for a small number of ‘gaming’ classrooms (3-6) that approximate the size of a small meeting room, seating six learners and an educator around a table. Ideally, the rooms would have various multimedia capabilities (LCD Screens and/or projectors, audio, etc.) and would be enclosed to dampen the sound of the classroom activities from others and vice versa.

Aside from classrooms, we will have a small number of offices for our staff to develop and manifest our multiple initiatives, as well as a central, large classroom-meeting room/lounge to be used for staff meetings and to fulfill the needs of our initiatives for a larger-group setting. We will also desire a kitchen, a storage room, and access to restrooms.