Dec 19

Days 7, 8, 9 WoW in Science #gbl

wow_logo_velke-1This week we spent our last three days just playing WoW to level up. Almost every 8th grader had a blast. Two 8th graders complained about having to play WoW at first but then I never heard from anything negative from them again. Another 8th grader pretty much let me know everyday that she didn’t enjoy playing at all. So one out of 51 is pretty good. Honestly, I expected 100% but I’ll take 98%! 🙂

The last three days went pretty much the same as days four, five and six with my afternoon class still needing more of my assistance than my morning class. A few kids in the afternoon class even got themselves into some major binds such as getting so stuck, such as in a mountainous area, that they thought of starting a whole new character! I have to admit that many times I forgot to tell them to just use their Hearth Stone (an item everyone gets to take you right back to where you started if you are really lost or stuck). Then one student threw away her Hearth Stone and I forgot that when you die there is a way you can resurrect your body right at a grave instead of having to go all the way back to your dead body. Those were two MAJOR EPIC FAILS on my part! Man, I felt do dumb (in gaming language I would be called a Noob for that – or a beginning or new player who lacks experience). The worst part of it was letting those kids down. The bright side was letting them problem solve and struggle on their own, which in retrospect is a great thing. And other students had the chance to be the heroes and save the day.

Overall though I was able to play and get my horde character, the undead priest, to level 10, and my alliance character, my human priest, to level 10 as well. I really enjoyed being there and playing with my 8th graders. I mean, how often do we as teachers get to just play with our students?

One decision I made was to change the passwords because we will be off for winter break after tomorrow and I think it’s too tempting to play the Science accounts at home. Kids have also been playing WoW when they go to the computer lab with other classes. I don’t want WoW to cause any troubles and cause friction with other teachers so I don’t know quite how to handle this. My expectations were that we only use the Science accounts during Science WoW playing days and I told kids NOT to use the class accounts at home and definitely NOT to access the site with the class accounts. By changing the passwords, a long and tedious ordeal, I remove the temptation in case anyone tries it. I just hope I remember to change them back before we visit the computer lab again!

Here are some stats I’m looking at to see how productive our nine class periods of playing turned out:

In the morning Horde class we had –
10 Blood Elves
9 Pandarans
5 Trolls
1 Tauren
1 Undead

Lots of hunters, with some rogues and warriors and only one mage and one warlock and one paladin. No one chose priest or shaman or druid.

Out of the above character races we got –
1 at level 3
1 at level 4
3 at level 5
2 at level 6
2 at level 7
4 at level 8
5 at level 9
3 at level 10
1 at level 11
2 at level 12
1 at level 14
1 at level 16!

The top five will be our squad leaders for the classification project.

From my afternoon Alliance class we had –
4 Worgen
5 Dwarves
6 Gnomes
4 Draenei
3 Night Elves
2 Pandarans

In this class we had a lot of hunters, a couple of warriors, a few warlocks, a couple of rogues, and one mage and one druid. No priests, paladins or shamans.

Here are the levels reached –
3 at level 4
3 at level 5
3 at level 6
6 at level 7
3 at level 8
1 at level 10
4 at level 12
1 at level 13

The level 12 and 13 characters will be our classification project squad leaders.

I’ve assembled WoW maps I found online on this WoW Maps webpage (some clickable parts of the Kalimdor and Eastern Kingdoms maps) to organize our squads and work towards getting everyone together after winter break.

I’m really excited to see where this goes and how much learning kids will get beyond the problem solving aspects of playing such a game. I’m after Science knowledge gain and hoping to see some great ideas and products of learning to share. In looking ahead to next year I’m a little concerned about using WoW because, as with any multiplayer online game, people who are playing at the same time as we are playing are not always behaving appropriately. We had some issues with an Alliance town that we will be making sure to avoid. The town is in the forest where all my afternoon class characters are going to be congregating so I showed them on the map the place we will be avoiding. So if anyone knows of other games that we can use for free (I would love to use Guild Wars 2, do they have a free option like WoW?) let me know so I can see if they have strange flora and fauna for us to study while also being exciting and fun. Choosing another game may not solve the problem, I think it’s just bad luck that at the time we’re playing, on the server we’re playing on, people are getting together to hang out and behave inappropriately. It just sucks for this project but it’s a reality of online games. My goal with something like this is to educate and discuss it with my students. They are 8th graders after all and their reactions to what some of them stumbled upon were quite appropriate and they made good choices and represented our school well. I’m proud of them.

Depending on how much students learn, and if I decide to use WoW again next year, maybe we don’t need a full nine days in the computer lab playing. I thought we’d be done with the whole project by now and very few students, 15 out of 51 or 29%, actually got to level 10 or above. Of those who leveled up easily some were experienced players but not all so the game is easy to learn and play. Only Pandarans need to get to level 10 so they can leave their island because their final quest is where they get to choose Alliance or Horde, the other races can move around and all meet in one location no matter what level they are. It’s just easier when you are level 10 or above. So Maybe six days or so will be enough. I don’t know. Anyone have some insight into this?

Either way I think the classifying part will go quickly because the first stage is to draw every plant and animal they see in the zones we assign each team. Once they have them drawn and labeled, then can actually work on organizing and classifying them back in class. Once they have their classifications done then they will research how scientists classify living things here for comparison.

Stay tuned to see how it turns out!

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