Welcome to the WPG FamilyPosted by PAUL HNIZDIL on 3/5/2020
Empty SpacePosted by PAUL HNIZDIL on 3/4/2020
The World Peace Game creates an empty space. I heard this statement before over the last year when John and others were talking about what the WPG creates. Not wanting to be exposed, I dutiifully nodded my head in agreement or gave some verbal affirmation to let others know that I was in the loop. One of the select, one of the washed as if i was at a Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting. Truth be told, I didn´t really get it. How can something so complex be an empty space. It´s not empt at all. Giving into my own fears of being exposed as not understanding or worse as a fraud, I stayed quiet.
This week I have finally seen the light. I now have an understanding of what is meant when John says empty space. As I see it, the empty space is merely creating an opportuntity for students to discover their own solutions to simple or complex problems. The empty space is not to be filled with only the right answers. In fact the empty space just wants solutions. It does not judge right or wrong, good or bad, effective or ineffective solutions.
The WPG, although complex and full in so many ways, is an empty space ready for the players to fill with their solutions, their consequences, leading to more opportunities for more solutions to the next set of problems. The empty space is never filled.
The WPG is but one door to this realm of authentic learning. In what ways can we create other empty space opportunities with our curriculum?
FearPosted by PAUL HNIZDIL on 3/3/2020
After observing the morning´s game play, the facilitators move to the meta-PLC phase of the training as John calls it. Today´s activity was a discussion of our self-identified strengths and fears. Interestingly, the strengths listed were in the categories of relationship and values such as compassionate, empathetic, curious, commuity-building and the like.
What stood out to me more was our listed fears: dissappointing, not doing our best, not good enough, getting it wrong, lack of respect, running out of time, apathy, not knowing the answers, not making a difference.
Here is what hit me with the list of fears. If we asked our students to list their fears in the classroom, I think they would have the same list.
If this is so, what is the implication of this understanding as a teacher in today´s classroom?
Taking Our Talents to Miami, AgainPosted by PAUL HNIZDIL on 3/2/2020
I´m back to Miami for some more training in the WPG. This time I brought with me Matt Howard and Helena Stover. These two are getting a full dose of all that is the WPG. No more hearing me talk about it. No more watching a few sessions in my classroom or the library. It is about to get real for them. What will they take away from the week in Miami? I look forward to their posts.
During the debrief and Meta-PLC after the morning session, John reminded us of the following cardinal rule for the facilitator: Do not interfere. Do not solve the problems. Trust the process of the WPG. Trust that the WPG is self-regulating and self-correcting. Trust the students will figure it out.
In what ways can we take this understanding and rule to other classroom activities outside the WPG? Consider the implications for student learning if we did.
Peace on Earth by Ainsley EckhoffPosted by PAUL HNIZDIL on 2/28/2020
Peace On Earth
Ainsley Eckhoff, Weather Goddess
Let there be peace on earth
And let it begin with me
Let there be peace on earth
The peace that was meant to be. . .
The World Peace Game is momentous
With Advance World History apprentice,
There are no rules but that’s not true,
Jump in and play, it will pull through.
Top-secret and silence is a must
To not influence others or it’s a bust.
With only nine key players,
The game offers many layers.
The game board has four levels,
With several hidden rebels,
Water, land, airspace, and space,
The four nations are the game’s base.
Grulandia, Avacadia, Brownlatte , and C.O.L.D.,
Argue and fight over resources such as oil and gold
As they work to solve crises of twenty-three
Without angering the Greatest Weather Goddess, me.
There is the United Nations and the world bank,
Being careful to not let the World tank,
And the Arms Dealer and the World Court,
Make for a game of great sport.
It's a game of negotiations
Between the World Peace Games’ nations
A nation has five minutes representing each day
To state their declaration and have their say.
Before the nation can move on,
Two planes must be landed and gone,
The Weather Goddess can roll her dice or coin flip,
To decide the outcome of the nation’s grip.
There are two wheels that one can spin
To see how they affect all of men
Fate is determined by the Economy and Weather wheel
Will there be no change or a blizzard in the deal?
Stocks plummet, rain falls
The Weather Goddess determines the severity of it all
Next, a wild card is drawn
To determine the consequences of tomorrow’s dawn.
The day comes to a mort,
When the Weather Goddess gives her final report,
Then for the next game day to arrive,
Another chance for the nations to thrive.
Brothers all are we
Let me walk with my brother
In perfect harmony
Let peace begin with me
Let this be the moment now
With every step I take
Let this be my solemn vow. . .
Dear Parents of ...Posted by PAUL HNIZDIL on 2/27/2020
Combat in the WPG is an option for the players. In fact, the game starts with the world on the brink of conflict. Players can engage in combat, the facilitators don't interfere nor do we necessarily say no to nations wanting to engage in combat. We merely ask the three basic questions: Can you afford it? Can you live with the consequences? Does it make sense? Additionally, we may ask follow up questions to flush out their reasoning. Final question is do they plan to kill of capture. Of course, the answer will bring its own potential consequences.
One of John’s requirements for combat is that the leadership of the nation engaging in combat write a letter to the parents of the fallen soldiers explaining the sacrifice. This is essential for it helps students understand the seriousness of war and that lives will be lost. Moms will grieve and often wonder if the national sacrifice was worth their sons' lives.
Each Game is UniquePosted by PAUL HNIZDIL on 2/6/2020
After 4 WPGs, I’m finally seeing the unique characteristics of each of the groups and the ways in which they effect the game play. I am working, and failing at times, to remember the uniqueness of this game. No class in the WPG is the same. Just like no regular class is the same from the next. This may seem like a cliché. I know this. However, I don’t always live it.
Even with the regular activities in my classroom, I’m always comparing class to class in various ways. Which class performed better? Which class was more engaged? Which class asked good questions? Which class struggled more than the other? Which did I perform better with? Even though we are doing the same thing, the experience and results are unique to that class. Again, this isn’t some sage epiphany. However, it's takng the WPG to truly appreciate, accept, and welcome the diversity of the experiences. I’m finally understanding the importance of this basic understanding. All the classes will be unique even with similar activities.
Has one class played the game better than the next? This was my first question and too often the first item of discussion for the WPG team. No longer will this be the case. Why? Simply, it isn’t fair. The classes are too unique in composition. The tasks for the game are too complex. The chaos too deep. The solutions are too varied. Mix the classes you will get a different game experience. The success of the game is not measured by how well they played. The success comes from playing the game, win or lose. (Although all games have been won by the rules of the game.)
So how did this latest class perform? As expected. They struggled, they failed, they found meaning in the chaos and found a way to win. They did experience a “click”. Was it a successful? Yes.
Here is what the latest batch of students said about their experience.
"In life, you will always have to deal with different kinds of people whether you like them or not. In the game, you end up having to talk to people in your class that you might not normally talk to. This almost felt refreshing and although there were some people who I did not get along with, and many others did not either, our nations were still able to work together to work for a bigger purpose then ourselves."
"Earlier in the game, I think the confusion and chaos created division and it took a very close deadline to realize it didn’t truly matter how well we did individually but how we rose as a group. I wish we had started to work as a group earlier but I think that it happened at the right time for our class. Looking back I think that the objective of the game got twisted in the beginning and we wanted to win. We got too competitive and wanted our team to win, but that is not what the game is about."
"First is stubbornness, finding the right balance between firm and outright obstinate was a difficult thing for me during the game. At first I was extremely obstinate in most matters, either finding legal loopholes in everything to achieve my goal or refusing to pay. The legal loopholes almost became my go to resolution to a problem. This worked some of the time, but most of the time it just held up a crisis. As the game progressed and I became slightly wiser, I realized a compromise would be much more reasonable in most scenarios."
New StrugglesPosted by PAUL HNIZDIL on 1/16/2020
New game, new issues, new decisions, new experiences. The uniques of each game play continues to show.
When bringing the WPG to Mountain Brook Junior High, we knew we would have to adjust the minimium critieria. John Hunter establishes a minium of 15 hours of dedicated class time and 28-35 students. The reality there is no way we could meet either of those standards. I can't sacrifice that amount of class time and still meet the curricular obligations, and our classes aren't that big. Therefore we start at a disadvantage.
Fortunately, the reduced time has not been detrimental or a hindrance to wining the game. In fact 2 of 3 the games won with an entire school day remaining. However, the reduced numbers is providing some difficulities. In our current game, our numbers do not allow for all the independent agencies to be fully manned. We decided to have only one player as the Arms Dealer and one to serve in the World Court. Having only one in these agencies becomes a problem when that player is absent. Arms Dealer being gone, not a big deal. However, missing the World Court is a signficanat loss. Her signature is needed on all agreements as a legal counsel, and she serves as the world court to mediate and adjudicate as needed. If she is absent, it could be a wrench in the spokes as it was during our very first game day. One more unique situation. The WG was sick with the flu on the days we introduced the Crisis Manual.
What did we do as facilitators? We rolled with these punches and pressed on. Did we make the right calls? If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know there are no wrong calls. The decisions we make as faciliators merely become part of the WPG journey.
Setting a New CulturePosted by PAUL HNIZDIL on 1/14/2020
With the start of each school year, we look at our rosters. As is often the case, we know very little about the students. Nonetheless we look forward to bulding relationships.
As I learn more about them, I often wonder how each student will react to the multitude and varied things I will put them through. "What will Sally do with her JOLLIES?" I may look forward to Eddie's Ignite Presentation. Or how will Julie respond to my grading system. Additionally, I wonder and look forward to how each class as a whole reacts to the activities vis a vis their collective and individual personalities. Yes, I do compare the groups. In what ways was 1st period different than 4th period. Better or worse, and why. I do this mostly informally throughout the year. Often times, I use many of my conclusions from these individual and group assessments-reflections to inform changes and adjustments. It affirms and challenges what I do.
Since incorporating the WPG, I've gone to a new level and in some ways a new purpose. As I learn the students as indivduals and within the group dynamic and collective personality of the class period, I think about the WPG implications. Who would be a good leader? Who could play the role of saboteur? What if a nation had this combination of players. Will the group succeed? Will they work togehter or will it be a disaster? I can't say I am correct in my assumptions or predictions. Nor can I say we chose the right leaders or bad hombres all the time. We don't know what will happen until the WPG is played. We are surprised often. Such is the trap of the WPG.
Surprisingly, I'm finding the WPG has a significance influence on the normal class activities. I create new and even adjust old activities lessons based on the WPG experiences. I think, "Ooh, this class that has played the WPG should or will approach the activity this way". "This class may struggle a bit more because they haven't played the WPG." How I introduce activities. What information I provide and what information I deny students is rooted in the WPG experience. Moreover, my anwers to student questions often are more questions. I see this particuarly when students are working on a activity and they are struggling with making a decision. In the past, I would answer. Now I find myself asking more questions for the students to answer. They "hate" this by the way. But it's part of the WPG culture.
The WPG is not an isolate activity. I am finding that the WPG influences much if not all I do in the classroom. It is setting a new tone and culture in my classroom. The reach of the WPG is broad and deep. Is this the true purpose of the WPG?
Kicked Out of the Library.Posted by PAUL HNIZDIL on 1/14/2020
Well, not really kicked out of the library in the strict sense. We knew the setting the WPG in the library was only temporary. After November's game, it was time to move. I packed up the 1500 pieces, dismantled the board and transfered it all to my classroom. At first I was concerned about the space. We don't know until we try. My room is a bit more cramped but not so much to have a negative impact game play. It works in my room. The WPG will no longer affect the normal operation of the library. Of course, I will still have to learn to flip the room quickly as we did the library. It's a minor inconvenience.