Sunday, February 14, 2016

Galaxy walk

If you are one of the millions who tried the Hour of Code this year,  you know that one of the themes was Star Wars and that by the end of the hour, you could create your own Star Wars-themed game.
Every student at my school completed the Hour of Code, but I got to thinking about the final puzzle where they had the opportunity to create their own Star Wars-themed game.  I decided to connect this with the game design and the design process itself with user feedback and all.  Here's how we did our galaxy walk in one class period:
1)  Students were placed in small group of 3 students who were then tasked with creating a Star Wars-themed game using the commands and events in the final stage of the Star Wars Hour of Code.
They were given 20 minutes to brainstorm and create their games.
2)  Groups of students then did what I call a "galaxy walk" - really a modification of the gallery walk.  They rotated through all the other games created by their classmates. During their two-minute rotations, they were to plan one another's games until a switch was called and they went on to the next group's game.  The most interesting thing was that as students were playing one another's games, even before they started playing the game, they would talk with their group members about what the objective of the game was based on the blocks of code they saw on the screen.  They were actually analyzing the coding BEFORE even playing it!
3)  At the end of the rotations and after trying everyone's games came the moment of truth...I asked them to stand by the game that was the 'best' or 'most fun to play.'
4)  This then led to an amazing discussion as students responded to questions such as:
-What makes a video game fun?
-Why was this particular game the most fun?
The games that got the most votes in my class were the ones that were described as "challenging," "had a clear objective" and "complex." There was one game that won based on it being "mindless fun" - I think this was the one that spawned Stormtroopers with every movement.  The class ended with another question I asked:   How can school be more like a video game?  Fun, but complex and challenging.

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