• Scalability

    Posted by PAUL HNIZDIL on 11/22/2019

    We completed our 2nd game of 5 in this round of testing the WPG.  


    I wish I had the time and space to share all the unique situations that popped up, all that the students are learning , and all that we are learning about our craft.  One of our teachers , who observed much of this last round was on the edge of her seat excited for what she was seeing.  In fact at the end of one day, she loudly extolled “I am so jealous!  I want this in my room!  How can I get this?!”


    As we continue to test WPG potential and limitations, we are encouraged by having a better handle on what the WPG can do, and just as importantly what it can’t be and what we don’t want it to be.  The question of greatest interest is scalability.  How can the WPG go beyond a few history classes?  How can the WPG influence more students?  Does scalabilty mean more games?  It’s not necessarily the game, but the lessons of the game that are scalable.  How can WPG help teachers take greater risks to create similar learning environments without playing the game itself?  Can crisis be created on smaller scale in other content classes? In what ways do students take the lessons to their next classes this year and the years to come.   In essence, do the lessons stick?  How can teachers build on these successes?  Again so many questions and possibilities.   


    Linked below you will find a video of three girls who played the game last month.  In it they shared how the WPG helped them take on and succeed in another project that followed the WPG.  


    Application of World Peace Game Lessons


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  • One Down...

    Posted by PAUL HNIZDIL on 10/28/2019

    We completed our first round of the WPG for this year.  As expected this round was a different experience from our first go at it.    Students played their roles differently.  They had siginficantly different solutions to the crises.  Some solutions made me go, "Hmmm?!"  I continuously had to remind myself that it's their game.  Let them play  it.  Let them solve it, let them fail and succeed.  Let them experience, reflect and learn.  It was tough watching.  


    I struggled with getting a read of the students during the WPG.  Maybe I’m too involved dancing and weaving among the dancers on the hardwood floor.  I don’t always make it to the balcony to watch the dancing.  During this round of the WPG, I had a tough time assessing the players’ experience.  Fortunately, Tami, Michelle and Holly had the good view from the balcony and shared their views.  


    This group also won the game.  In fact it won with plenty of time to spare.  We still had 2 more class days on the schedule, although they played into the 8th game day.  In comparison, our inaugural group won with only 10 minutes to spare.   Finishing the game with significant time to spare is neither bad nor good.  It just is  a fact of this particular game. 


    What did the students learn from the experience?  Let's hear from them.  Each color is a different student. 




    Well, I've known how to talk since I was two, but when I say talk, I mean really talk. The first day we started the game and we were picking teams, I was super anxious. I wanted a team with one of my friends so I would feel comfortable when discussing my opinion. When I was chosen to be Secretary of State of Solartopia, I was hesitant. Did I want to respectfully decline to be with my friends or should I accept the really cool position? I gave it a quick thought and decided to step out of my comfort zone and say yes. Little did I know that would probably be the best decision I've made in this class (so far)! 


    The World Peace Game is more than just three weeks of sitting in a room debating over ways to achieve world wide satisfaction. It is a true test, assessing your ability to withstand the pressure of everyday issues nations in the world face, and those that you may experience in you daily life.


    Can you handle the pressure? No matter what role you play in the simulation, you most definitely hold many responsibilities. Several different people rely on your ability to make good and considerate decisions. One wrong move, and you and your nation could enter a downward spiral. Sounds intense, right?


    This may seem odd, but the relationship between you and your teammates is a lot like and arranged marriage. You have all been brought together for some reason, and even if you do not like it, you are stuck with them. Everyday you must find a way to work out conflict, and work as a unified team in order to do so.


    How will you become a good leader. Something you have to figure out relatively quickly, is when do you make a decision for the greater good of others, or for yourself. In my eyes, if you put everyone before you and your people, you forget that you have needs of your own. So make your necessities a priority. On the other hand, you must keep others in mind. It is good to be respected by other leaders, so try not to come across as selfish. Also, you need to be respected by your council and people. As Machiavelli says, you should always be slightly feared. When people are slightly scared of you, they are sure to respect you.


    In conclusion, the World Peace Game is an exciting combination of decision making, negotiation, and problem solving. Not only does it teach you of the values of leadership and real world problems, but it also gives you the skills you need to handle everyday issues that you may have to face


    To win, we have to work together, and, to work together, we need to be able to look at the whole picture, a.k.a everyone's problems and opinions. We don't necessarily all have to agree with each other, just be able to tolerate each other, just like the real world. If we can't manage to tolerate other people's opinions and try to do everything ourselves, then we have no hope of winning. Some of the people in our class don't seem to understand that, though I suppose it's early enough to be understandable. The real world isn't black and white, and neither are the problems we have to face in the World Peace Game


    The World Peace game was almost like a reflection of our skills that we have of people. Some people showed qualities of teamwork and others showed that they work better on their own. The game showed that some people are natural leaders and others are natural followers. Some people immediately started talking to people to try and solve problems as soon as they could, and others waited for somebody to come to them. 


    I wouldn't say that the game is just to teach us teamwork, more so to teach us the importance of tolerance in teamwork, while also showing us how to think through real-world problems and function in a high-stress environment.  To win, we have to work together, and, to work together, we need to be able to look at the whole picture, a.k.a everyone's problems and opinions. We don't necessarily all have to agree with each other, just be able to tolerate each other, just like the real world. If we can't manage to tolerate other people's opinions and try to do everything ourselves, then we have no hope of winning…The real world isn't black and white, and neither are the problems we have to face in the World Peace Game, so working with only one viewpoint will only lead to failure…Being able to work under stressful conditions, with actual consequences to each and every action is crucial to our ability to live in the real world.


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  • Can We Do This Again & Again & Again...

    Posted by PAUL HNIZDIL on 10/14/2019

    With a successful beta test in May, we are ready to move to the  next phase.  The driving question at hand:  Can we do  the WPG again and again and again and again and again?  That is, can we feasibly conduct the WPG 5 times in a single academic year ?  The finer questions are:   Can we afford it? Can we accept the consequences?  Does it make sense?  Incidentally, these are the same questions we ask players during the WPG.  


    WPG 7


    We started the year of WPG with my 7th period.  It's the last period of the day and seemed like a good place to start logistically.  This game is running October 1-October 22.  It will be some time before I can give a reflective assessment on this particular game play.  I know that I'm making many mistakes in facilitating the game.  I know I'm more prepared to run this game than in May.  However, I feel I'm less prepared than in May.  I can't explain it or describe why I have a sense of uneasiness.  It just is.  Fortunately, I have some great coaches by my side in Tami, Holly, and Michelle watching from the "balcony".  They  are quick with words of affirmation but more importantly they aren't shy about sharing areas where and when I could have done something better and more in the spirit of the WPG.  


    Our most pressing concern is management of the game space.  Like last year, we are using the library.  Currently, the library is the only reasonable space for the WPG.  Unlike last year, we can't keep the WPG set up.  The library is a favorite and vital space in our building loved by students and teachers.   Tami is a most gracious host always looking to accommodate all requests to use the space.  The library docket stays full most of the year.  We know and accept that it's not fair and unreasonable to keep the WPG set up for 3 weeks like we did in May.  Consequently, after each game session, Tami, Michelle Rose and I break down the set, store materials in the library workroom, slide the WPG board to a secluded corner of the library, and reset the library space for the next event. We  are getting quite efficient at the reset.  Frankly, it's easy now because the class is the last of the day and I'm coming off my planning period.  Will we be able to flip the room in 6 minutes when we play during the middle class periods?  Holly is taking bets.  


    How is the game impacting the regular classroom?  Right now very little negative effect.  Ask again when we start round three in January.  


    Next game sessions will be  Novemember, January, March and April.  


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  • 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."  


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  • 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?  

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  • 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...

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  • 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."  



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  • 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.  


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  • 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.


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  • 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.  

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