WHAT IS FANTASY GEOPOLITICS
Popularly referred to as "fantasy football for NCSS (National Council for the Social Studies) and Common Core literacy standards," Fantasy Geopolitics inspires teachers and students to become fans of learning geopolitics by 1) gamifying the news, 2) engaging students with global information sources, and 3) providing relevant standards-based activities and resources from around the world wide web.
Students draft teams of countries and follow those countries in the news. Their teams earn points every time a country is mentioned in a particular news source. As students' countries compete for news headlines, their teams score points, and student interest and understanding grows deeper.
Three Easy Steps to Get Started
1) A teacher/commissioner signs up and establishes classes/leagues, specifying start and end dates and a max number of countries per student (1-5 recommended).
2) Teacher runs draft rounds with classes using an interactive draft map - Students just click a country on the map to select one for their team!
3) Teachers and students use resources and scores however they want to become more engaged, aware, and globally competent! Teachers can pick up, drop, and trade countries as students need and want, depending on what's happening in the world.
WHY FANTASY GEOPOLITICS WORKS
We're not just trying to gamify learning. We're going after the "learnification" of gaming. We encourage students and teachers to get curious about the world in which they live and then become fans of global competence, all the while playing, reading, and learning! The game is a vehicle for deeper learning. There are so many interesting digital resources available, but nothing that brings them all together in one place around an engaging learning game like Fantasy Geopolitics!
Fantasy Geopolitics is a lightweight game, which means that teachers can use it however they want, whenever they want! The game has been used as a 6-month Civics course foreign policy primer, a series of 3-week long continent-drafts in a Geography course, a scaffolding tool used while studying the history of the world wars in U.S. and World History, and a creative way to engage students outside class in a middle school Humanities seminar.
Simply put, it works because students and teachers love it, find it challenging (if you want to win, you have to be aware of what's happening in the world and adjust your team accordingly), and see it as relevant. It also creates "competitive fandom" in any social studies or global literature class as students become more engaged, aware, and globally competent!
Simply put, Fantasy Geopolitics encourages students to become teachers and helps teachers become even better lifelong learners!
THE GOAL OF FANTASY GEOPOLITICS
We want to improve how students of all ages learn about the world in which they live. With Fantasy Geopolitics students will understand the world in which they live. We will help them become more engaged, aware, and globally competent. Teaching, after all, is the only profession on the planet responsible for maintaining curiosity in kids!
We want to help teachers learn better (and more efficiently) too. I also created Fantasy Geopolitics for myself--to help me learn and help keep my learning organized. There was so much cool, global content on the world wide web, but there wasn't much collaboration around it and organization of it. I wanted to create a fun, interesting place for all of those cool articles, videos, and maps to work together with a game for students. Best of all, this helped me learn more too!
WHAT'S NEXT FOR FANTASY GEOPOLITICS
I'm so grateful for the opportunities I've been given from 4.0 Schools, Startup Weekend EDU, and North Lakes Academy Charter School, especially from the entrepreneurial communities connected to those organizations. But we're not finished making a difference:
We want to revolutionize how students learn about the world. One of the main things we'll be iterating and working toward is the student-as-user. Currently, the game is teacher-run and facilitated, but we've found that Fantasy Geopolitics becomes transformational the more that students can explore their curiosities, own their learning, and become self-aware self-educators.
We want to integrate more world map data into a one-stop-shop for students and teachers. Since our draft and scores map is the same overlay as many other interactive world maps on the Internet, we want to help organize all these resources for students so they can "study abroad" from their home computers. With a more interactive world map, students will be able to click on countries for articles, information, images, and videos--enabling them go to the world and explore it digitally!
We want to improve how "news" and "headlines" are created. We're encouraged and inspired by the ways in which many innovative news organizations today frame problems and solutions, and believe that Americans want to know more about the wider world in which they live. In the social era especially, maybe we can help shift the conversations to a more academic, emotionally-intelligent, and fun place--a place where participation leads to awareness and school becomes an education!
We want to stay in school. Not enough innovative "disruption," especially in educational technology, comes from inside the classroom. What if we could reimagine our own schools as students and teachers--on the front lines and on the frontiers!
Risks and challenges
Learning only happens outside our comfort zones. I've made incredible progress on this project over the past few months because of the community of people around me, helping me and supporting the mission of Fantasy Geopolitics!
Technology doesn't always make our learning experience better, but I hope we can all remember that we're constantly experimenting, learning, and growing together. I can't wait to hear from you and help you!
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