Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

A Taster of Edu Game Design on Day 1

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This semester, I decided to be more involved in the creativity course I am co-teaching. I am not sure I will manage to commit to attending most of the classes my co-teacher is leading, but because of a scheduling change, this is more likely to be both convenient for me, and in some instances necessary.

Today was the first day of class, and I decided to give students a “taste” of the educational game design module… in the form of 3 little bites. I am telling you the 3 bites in reverse chronological order of how I actually did them in class (tech disaster, long story).

First bite was a very quick diagram of the main three things we do in my part of the course: Play. Reflect, Design (in a cycle). The module is just that: play games, reflect on them, design your own, play-test them, reflect, re-design, play, reflect… 🙂

The second bite was an intro to myself that shows different dimensions of who I am (as a wordcloud thingie) and I talked about how I hope students will bring different dimensions of themselves into the course.


flickr photo shared by Butaris under a Creative Commons ( BY-ND ) license

The third bite was the “taster” game. I baked zucchini muffins (in a cake pan) the other day because I found the recipe in a book a friend had gotten me with recipes for very young children (I had seen the recipe online before but never had the guts to try it). My daughter enjoys baking with me but actually doesn’t eat most of the stuff we bake (they’re actually usually good; she just doesn’t like sweets; she’ll eat a few bites of flatbread or banana muffins, but not much else; on the plus side, I don’t feel awful when I get the occasional baking disaster coz she doesn’t get upset; she enjoys the process, not the outcome; I know I know… my daughter, right?).

ANYWAY just yesterday I took samples of my zucchini cake to work and made some colleagues guess the ingredients. No one guessed, except my boss who guessed from seeing it. And she only guessed because she lived in the US for 30 years. No one in Egypt has probably heard of zucchini muffins. My husband won’t even try them just because he knows what’s in them. Some colleagues knew in advance what it was based on a facebook post I wrote after I made them.

Sooooo I thought I’d play the game in class and I made another batch yesterday night (the picture is NOT of my own zucchini muffins, but I like that picture more than what I made, so…). So the activity came in really handy when the technology in the room needed some fixing and the room computer wasn’t working. While my colleague worked with someone to get that ready, I gave out small pieces of the cake, and used Nearpod (students logon using their smartphones) to collect student guesses about ingredients before they tasted. No one guessed correctly before tasting. Well they guessed the eggs and flour and sugar 🙂 Maybe vanilla and baking soda and baking powder. We talked about who in the class liked baking and I was happy that a couple of girls and one guy did. Then I let them taste and guess again. Only a couple of people came close. One person said vegetables and another person said zucchini – no one else guessed. Well, my co-teacher (who grew up in Canada) guessed the zucchini.

And I asked the students why they think someone would make zucchini muffins and someone guessed correctly that it’s done to help picky eater kids to eat veggies. We talked a little bit about “functional fixedness” (without mentioning the actual term) of how most of them guessed ingredients that they expect to find in a cake, sweeter things, fruits (someone guessed the green flecks were from lemon/lime zest).

Anyway, this was a first for me – bringing food I had made myself into class (I am an insecure cook); I often bring food to class anyway for all kinds of reasons but this one was especially fun for me. So I thought I would share.

Next time I can use food coloring to confuse them, maybe 😉

I was thinking as I was writing this blogpost that even though I enjoy eating the stuff I bake, I love doing it with my daughter in the kitchen so we can make memories together. It occurred to me that also with my students, this unorthodox way to begin a class might itself stay in their memory. I hope so.

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