• What the WPG Meant to Me

    Posted by PAUL HNIZDIL on 5/28/2019

    What the World Peace Game meant to me. 


    Bringing the World Peace Game to the Mountain Brook Junior High was the most rewarding professional development experience in my 22 years in the classroom.  We learned early in the process that the WPG is a Trojan Horse for the students and the teachers.   The WPG is not  really about the game.   A point I have made several times in this blog.  




    The game is a tool used to force students to dive deeper into critical thinking.   It's a Trojan Horse because the players are so immersed in playing and winning the game, they don’t initially realize that they are actually doing some intense deep and varied thinking.  They are using essential real world skills that are in high demand beyond the school walls such as cognitive flexibility, negotiation, emotional intelligence, people management, creativity, and complex problem solving to name a few. It's not until the end of the game that students come to this realization.  We saw them find meaning and authenticity in what they were doing.  By the last day, the WPG wasn't really a game, but an experience for navigating life and succeeding outside the protective walls of school.  Furthermore,  I saw what was possible when the teacher gets out of the way and lets the kids fail, be creative, and own their own lessons and solutions.  




    In the same sense, the WPG is a Trojan Horse for the teachers.  We aren't merely facilitating the game.  In reality, the game is a challenge and a process for teachers to become more authentic and profound pedagogical artists and craftsmen.  The WPG will expose the weaknesses in the facilitator's pedagogy.  This was the case for me for sure.   I learned lessons on how I can be more effective with my questioning, rapport development, formative assessments with immediate feedback, pacing and flow, reciprocal cooperation, allowing active learning, establishment and maintenance of high expectations, and identification and cultivation of student skills and talents.  




    I am anxiously waiting for the start of the next school year. With some excitement and equal amount of trepidation I am looking forward to the challenge of executing the WPG five times throughout the year.  I remember what John Hunter often told students in the midst of the WPG when they were in a pickle, "I don't know how you are going to do it.  It's gonna be tough.  I don't know how, but I think you can do it."  


    Comments (-1)
  • Successful Beta Test

    Posted by PAUL HNIZDIL on 5/22/2019

    What did we learn from the WPG beta test?  It may take a few posts to fully unpack it although I fret that it can't be fully unpacked.  We keep finding more and more lessons.  


    Back in February, I posted what the WPG would do:  


    The game itself is not the innovation.  The innovation is taking a risk and redesigning curriculum to include learning experiences that require students to USE their content knowledge to actualize new and creative solutions to complex problems in their current context.  


    The WPG provides authentic opportunities for students to engage in a complex decision making matrix called the OODA Loop. 


    Image result for ooda loop


    Ultimately, the WPG requires students to use these ten most desired skills according to the World Economic Forum:   

    • Cognitive Flexibility
    • Negotiation Skills
    • Service Oriented Mindset
    • Judgement and Decision-making
    • Emotional Intelligence
    • Coordinating with Others
    • People Management
    • Creativity
    • Critical-ThinkingComplex Problem-Solving


    This is exactly what the WPG did for our students who played in the beta test.  All grew through this experience by working through all the unknowns and problems.  We can't be any more pleased with this experience.


    We enjoyed the satisifation of success.  Now the work really begins.  How do we do this five times in a year?  

    Comments (-1)
  • World Peace: They Won!

    Posted by PAUL HNIZDIL on 5/20/2019

    With 10 minutes remaining, all nations and independent agencies solved all the crises and increased their budgets.  World Peace Games was Won!  

    Declaration of the Weather Goddess




    Now to the next phase: Reflect, Adjust, Plan.  


    More to come...

    Comments (-1)
  • With the WPG You Only Win.

    Posted by PAUL HNIZDIL on 5/17/2019

    Here is a bit of what the students have been saying about the game.  Each Paragraph is a different student.  



    "On the first day of the World Peace Games, the thoughts running through my head consisted of: "what in the world is going on", "am I doing this right?", and "how are we supposed to do this in so little time?" I am feeling overwhelmed by the masses. We could be doing this all wrong, yet we would have no idea. We have to learn through our mistakes. Moving onto the second day, I am anticipating it to begin to progress (hopefully) in problem and crisis solving. None of us know what we are doing, yet are trusting and leaning on each other for the flow and duration of the game. I feel like I am doing a trust fall."



    "As Secretary General of the United Nations, during negotiating periods for other countries, I am walking around negotiating and listening to nearly everyone's conversations and business transactions in order to remain informed, and with this comes the ability to see everything. Reading that it sounds quite entitled and pretentious, but that's not really what I mean. With not being tied to a nation, I am able to see all the other nations communicating and their different personalities working together, not against each other. It's quite satisfying actually. As a class, we forget about all our other work in other classes, our friends, etc, and just focus on the task (many, many tasks) at hand. With this, one will notice the difference in opinions and viewpoints and how they are able to come to the same conclusion.  From what I have seen in World Peace Games, the people within the game aren't arguing or debating over a topic; they are getting it done, and I know they have different viewpoints, so how are they able to do it? What's the secret? Two words: common goal. We all have the same crisis packet with the same problems and same repercussions. We all have a common goal. When we all have a common goal or problem at hand, rather than focusing on what we believe we look at the issue and decide how to conquer. This I believe is the answer as to why two people or groups or multiple groups is able to solve a problem together despite their differences."




    "A few weeks ago, my mom attended a conference where she met Bernice King, Martin Luther Kings Jr. daughter. Mrs. King told the audience that her mother, Coretta King, told her a everyday, "Each day you ask yourself: have I been an answer to a question or a solution to a problem?" Now, each day on the way to school my mother tells me to find a way to be an answer to a question and a solution to a problems so that I can be my best self. This could mean many different things in many different ways. However, in the sense of world peace games, I am there to be an answer to a question and a solution to a problem. Going into each game day, I repeat those memorable words. I help those in need of guidance and solve things when signing off on treaties and agreements. I have a purpose in the chaos."


    The WPG Teams favorite so far is the last sentence.  "I have purpose in the chaos."  



    Comments (-1)
  • Oops: Former Prime Minister

    Posted by PAUL HNIZDIL on 5/8/2019

    A few weeks ago, I blogged about failure.  During the training John proclaimed, "You will see failure today."  We did indeed.  The first game day exposed all kinds of failures as the students in their nations and independent agencies failed to take the right actions.  So much they could have and should have accomplised but didn't.  





    Our game day one.  Yep, we saw very similar failures.  Unlike Miami, our students' failures resulted in one of our prime ministers losing her job.  Failed action to solve a crisis triggered a successful coup d etate. Oops.


    This made the consequences real.  It showed the students what would happen if they don't work together to take care of what needs to be done.  Why didn't they do it?  That is for the students of the game to unpack and reflect upon.   Will they learn and adjust?  They will need to if they want to win the game.  


    Comments (-1)
  • Student Thoughts: Week One

    Posted by PAUL HNIZDIL on 5/6/2019

    A few thoughts about the WPG from the students from the first week.  At this point, we have yet to play any of the game. It has been all the preliminary organization and set up.  


    KW:  After day one, my head was spinning from all the complex pieces on the board. My mind could not wrap around all the little pieces that had such a big contribution to the board. Everything from the Atlantis underwater to the satellites to the power plants. Each one has a specific role and makes up the game. As I left the classroom that day, I was still filled with confusion and excitement too. The thing that I thought was the most interesting was each level and what it consisted of... To be honest, I feel like this game is definitely going to be a challenge not only for my brain but for my problem solving skills. I can not wait to take it on head first!


    LE:  The 3 questions: Can you afford it? Does it make sense? Is it worth the consequences? Although we may use these questions in the games, I feel like it is a valuable attribution to add into my daily live. Whatever decisions we are faced with, big or small, we must ask ourselves these three questions.




    TR:  In class we have done all if the preliminary stuff for the World Peace Games now, and I am excited to play. This is one of the first things that I have ever done in school in which I have no idea what to expect, and I am ready for it. I do not know a lot about diplomacy, and how nations handle disasters. I am really looking forward to figuring out how to solve all of the problems that we have been presented with. I am excited to learn about diplomacy, and how our nations in the game will handle the problems in the moment. I am excited to see what new ways that my classmates and I can come up with, and to learn something that is just like the real world. Hopefully, we can win the game and come up with some awesome ways to do it.


    Comments (-1)
  • Crisis Report

    Posted by PAUL HNIZDIL on 5/3/2019

    Today was a big day.  We introduced the Crisis Report.  Solving these crises is the mission of the game.  Today the learned what they would really need to do.  All presumptions of what they thought went flying out the window.  


    When we started the week, we planned on finishing the Crisis Report today.  After the first day, we thought we were way ahead and maybe the first game day could happen by today.  Another trap. We got cocky.  The preliminaries did slow us down as John had predicted and designed.  In a way, we have fallen behind vis a vis our orginal scheme.  No worries.  These setbacks have to happen.  They are only setbacks in our minds and not really setbacks at all.  It's the process.  


    Frankly, I was struggling after today.  I never felt comfortable reading, pointing out on the map, or discussing the crises.  As a  matter of fact, I was unengaging.  There was no story, there was little emotion, there was no build up or anything that would  engage an audience.  I merely read the document.  Not a great presentation strategy.  I couldn't engage with the text personally.  How can I then engage the students?  


    Of course the team and other observers were very gracious and affirming.  They reassured me that I did just fine.  The the students were listening closely and taking notes.  

    Comments (-1)
  • Game Time: Well, sort of...

    Posted by PAUL HNIZDIL on 5/1/2019

    D-Day April 29, 2019  WPG was launched at Mountain Brook Junior High School.  It's game time!   Actually not quite game time, we are only in the first phase.  The first few days is the preliminary board orientation, leadership appointments, team selections, review of the dossiers, and eventually the discussion of the Crisis Manual.  As discussed earlier in the blog, this process is essential to establish the right environment for student growth using the WPG.

      day 1


     I didn't expect to be nervous.  It's been a long time since I was nervous about leading a lesson. 




    Students are intriqued, curious, and  scheming. 

    Comments (-1)
  • Interview with John Hunter

    Posted by PAUL HNIZDIL on 5/1/2019

    While in Miami for training, Holly and I took the opportunity to interview John Hunter.  In this short video John shares a little bit about the game, the training for facilitators, and how WPG fosters the student-teacher partnership and amplifies student voice.  

    Interview with John Hunter


    Paul and John

    Comments (-1)
  • "A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week." George S. Patton

    Posted by PAUL HNIZDIL on 4/29/2019

    We have a good plan indeed.  Since returning from Miami, we have been running wide open to get to this point.  It's go time.

    Team   GB

    Comments (-1)