Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

Reporting on my Class Hack-a-thon

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Reading Time: 3 minutes

I blogged about my plans to do a hack-a-thon in my class and I did so yday.

I started by asking what the word “hack” meant to them… We eventually got to the point i wanted, which was to change, transform, playfully (thank you #clmooc).

I then did a quick ice-breaker regarding hacking fairytales. I gave examples of two I knew of:
1. Snow white from the viewpoint of her stepmom, complaining about her being a rebellious teenager; and
2. Cinderella from a feminist remake in a ballet I had attended in Houston: where she dislikes the Prince’s arrogance and falls in love with his valet

I then asked students in groups to hack another. I got the following:

A. Aladdin. They said it was unlikely for a princess to agree to marry a poor thief! Being a thief, he deserved a bad ending and gets killed. Gloomy! But we agreed it was both realistic and reinforced/reproduced social class divides.

B. Beauty and the beast, where the beast never turns into a prince but she falls in love with him anyway. I love this one for focusing on inner beauty. Funny the girls who came up with it had not watched Shrek!

C. Beauty and the beast where Beauty leaves the beast coz of his chauvinistic, patriarchal ways, and goes off to open her own business and also be a librarian (I told students she could have just opened a bookstore, then!). Amazingly, this feminist idea came from an all-boys group!

D. Little red riding hood, who has an affair with the woodcutter, and they both conspire to kill her grandma to inherit her millions (!). A bit soap-opera this one, but imaginative nonetheless.

Next up was a brief discussion by me on learning outcomes, multiple intelligences, and the idea of aligning educational experiences, whether gamey or not, with the learning outcomes. It was v brief and i asked them as groups to write down a list of learning outcomes, incl knowledge, skills and attitude, and to try to focus on knowledge higher up in Bloom’s taxonomy.

(I talked about importance of activity/assessment making sense for the learning you want to promote. I told them about my First Aid course at the Red Cross where the assessment was MCQ, and how that never gave me confidence to ever administer CPR or even less extreme first aid. This is a fave example of mine for inauthentic assessment)

I then collected their answers and put them to another group, and asked them to hack a game to meet some of the learning outcomes. This was quite difficult coz some of the outcomes were v difficult to imagine as games.

So here are some of the things they came up with:

1. Monopoly to add a currency exchange option, a stealing option, a bank loan option, and possibilities of negotiation and partnership between players, all on a time limit. (Can’t remember what their learning outcomes were hehe)

2. A group were trying to promote confidence and teach public speaking while also teaching about eco-friendliness, so they did a TV show thing that involved two stages: one is a debate amongst four participants in the dark (to help those who are shy at first) and then the best two would debate/discuss openly. The topic was eco-friendliness

3. A group hacked Who Wants to be a Millionaire. They changed the questions from factual trivia, to different options involving building things, solving puzzles, logical problem-solving – and all done in teams with time limits (time limit to improve time management; teams to promote teamwork, and the different forms of questions both to meet different intelligences and to also address critical thinking, i think).

4. One group had a difficult set of learning goals to deal with. They decided to create a Twitter game (kudos for even thinking in that direction) where teams from diff areas in Egypt would have their own hashtag and take photos of growing plants. The team w more photos and retweets wins.

5. One group working on time management and working under pressure modified the app game “snake” so that what players needed to do was look at equations and avoid “odd” numbers (as bombs) but eat “even” numbers. It required quick arithmetic and time management of course.

[note: not sure these time management things would transfer beyond the game. But i’m still happy the students came up with these things ]

6. Last game: students hacked Tennis Wii to meet goals of physical fitness and working under pressure. The wii game would involve players having to try to answer a question, and to hit the tennis ball at the correct answer on the board. The one who hits the correct answer first gets the point. Interesting hack.

Sooooo that’s it! Next assignment is to liquefy the syllabus, Michelle Pacansky-Brock style 🙂 will report 🙂

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5 Comments

  1. Inspiring – Maha – thanks so much for sharing! S xx

  2. @Bali_Maha funny … My sixth graders have been working on hacking the card game of UNO this past week … #ccourses #clmooc

  3. @dogtrax ur students are amazingly mature, i remember the gender discussion!

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