The Looney Academy
Where Learning is Fun!
At Looney Labs, we believe that teachers make a difference. Teachers are true heroes, each day touching the future as they teach. The Looney Academy strives to help teachers by providing quality content on the educational value of Looney Labs games.

In the Halls of the
Looney Academy

Our Games
Games that have strong educational content or have been used successfully in classrooms.

Lesson Plans
A list of all our lesson plans.

Standards Correlation
An index of how our games compare to the US National Education Standards.

Our trifold brochure with overviews of the educational content of our most popular games.

Conferences that teachers might be interested in.

Connect with other teachers through the EDU Discussion Mailing List.

Teacher Warren
A virtual "meeting place" where all teachers are welcome.

Contact Us
with ideas, thoughts and comments you may have.

The Teacher's Lounge
January '07

Hi Everyone!

Welcome to the Teacher's Lounge! It's where we can all sort of hang out, get rejuvinated, grab a few ideas and a cup of caffeine and go back to our classrooms, ready to teach again. I've been in many different schools in my career and they all have some place for teachers to kick back – one school I subbed at even had a couple of quiet rooms with cots and alarm clocks for when those nap-attacks would hit in the middle of the day.

But most are places of noise, work, planning, discussion – a downright busy place. That's the sort of Teacher's Lounge I envision here. I'll be tossing things down out on the Table-o'-Stuff here in the Looney Academy Teacher's Lounge for your perusal – when you have time. That's part of the joy of having a monthly column – I get to leave stuff up here long enough that you busy teachers might be able to find a small chunk of time to read things through. Then, it will be archived back in the Academy Library for you to "check out" later. So, on to the first topic.

Playing Games is Good for Students!

My friend Judy, who is a physics teacher in Omaha, tossed something my way and I thought it makes a great topic for my first column. Recently, the National Science Teacher's Associaton (NSTA) reported that the Federation of American Scientists (FSA)and the National Science Foundation (NSF) support "Edu-Gaming" in schools. Their report is based on solid research into using video games in the classroom, but a lot of their findings can relate directly to using all sorts of games, such as EcoFluxx and Chrononauts, as the learning tools. In publishing their findings and recommendations, scientists said that:

"... games require players to master skills in demand by today's employers – strategic and analytical thinking, problem solving, planning and execution, decision-making, and adaptation to rapid change. They can be used to practice practical skills and important skills that are rarely used, to train for high-performance situations in a low-consequence-for-failure environment, and for team building. Games offer attributes important for learning – clear goals, lessons that can be practiced repeatedly until mastered, monitoring learning progress and adjusting instruction to learning level of mastery, closing the gap between what is learned and its use, motivation that encourages time on task, personalization of learning, and infinite patience."

Games are good for kids! Who knew? Well, to be honest, we knew. You, me, all of us. The right games, in the right circumstances, with the right teachers can be the best way for kids to aquire knowledge and skill sets they never knew they had to learn. How important is it for a doctor or pharmacist to read all of the directions? How much have skilled laborers (construction workers, auto manufacturers, electronic parts makers....) had to be able to adapt to new and rapidly-changing technologies? How much does team-building affect job performance in the corporate world? How easy is it to actually TEACH any of these skills? And how often do kids use all of these skills in games?

By the way, in many teachers' opinions, Fluxx teaches all of the above skill sets. You have to read the card completely and follow all of the directions to be able to play the game. You have to adapt to new and changing environments. And you build a comraderie among students that rarely happens in a lecture hall.

Looney Labs games are excellent choices for many teachers – we've seen Chrononauts, Fluxx (in all it's variants), Treehouse and Nanofictionary be used in classrooms across the country. And of course we want to see the use of our games in classrooms increase. But not just for us – for the kids. We've seen this again and again as educators:

  • students learn best when relaxed. Playing games and having fun relaxes kids and lets their brains function in ways that stressed brains don't function.

  • students rarely want to repeat lessons - but love to repeat games. How wonderful is it to see lessons being learned and reinforced without any effort on your part?

  • students will also teach other students games, whereas they are rarely willing to teach their peers standard content. And we all know how much we learn by teaching what we know to someone else! Teaching others to play games help cement learning into a student's brain.

If our goal is to build future citizens who are self-motivated, life-long learners, then we need to teach all the skills they'll need in their future lives. Games can help do that. Our games as well as other great games that are out there. Don't let nay-sayers tell you that games have no place in the classroom. Take a page from the NSTA, the FAS and the NSF and tell them that the games that you've picked for your classroom are simply some of the many high-quailty tools that you use to produce high-quality graduates. And then go play with your students!

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