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

February '07

Welcome back! I've pushed aside last month's column and made room on the Table-o'-Stuff here in the Looney Academy Teacher's Lounge for a whole new topic for you to read when you have time. Again, that's the joy of having a monthly column I get to leave stuff up and let you busy teachers find time to check it out. So grab a cup of your favorite hot beverage - coffee or tea most likely, but it's the lucky teacher who's stuck a package of cocoa in their desk - put your feet up and enjoy.

We keep saying that Looney Labs games are good for students, and should be used in classrooms. I mean, it makes sense: we manufacture games and we want to get them into as many markets as possible. But that's not the real reason. We don't make "educational games" – we make great games that are educational.

Let me say that again: We don't make educational games. We make great games that are educational.

It seems like a small distinction, but for any teacher who's gone out to the Teacher Supply Store nearest them and browsed the "educational games" section quickly realizes that great games – ones that are fun, unique and challenging – are few and far between.

We've all seen the hundreds of Monopoly and Trivial Pursuit knock-offs, or the endless "move along a path and learn facts" games. Or the games that feel like they are worksheets in new packaging. There are too many games that strive first to be educational and then, sometimes as an afterthought, try to toss in a little fun too. And they often don't achieve either goal.

Bah. Humbug.

The only thing worse than a bad educational game is having to take lunchroom duty on a snowy day – in a middle school. By yourself.

Then along come some great games. They are designed first and foremost to be games – with all that implies: fun, social activities with a "let's play that again!" feeling. Good teachers find these games, play them, love them and then realize "hey... these would fit great in my classroom!" Word spreads among teachers and the games slowly find their way into classes all over the country.

Looney Labs games have followed this kind of path. Chrononauts was not meant to be a classroom tool for teaching cause-and-effect, "what if" or even the basics of history. It was designed to be a fun game to play. And it is! But any social studies, civics or history teacher worth their salt has only to glance at the game and see all sorts of wonderful applications for their students.

The same can be said of Treehouse, Nanofictionary or Aquarius . And while Fluxx Español is a perfect way to practice language skills in any middle school or high school Spanish class, that's not why it was published.

We've been told over and over by teachers who love our games that they are perfect for their classrooms. People have incorporated these games in all sorts of settings, meeting all sorts of different educational objectives. From mainstream to special ed, from elementary to university – our games have found homes in school.

I've sat down and gone through state and national standards, finding parallels so that teachers can defend the use of these games in class. And then we've pulled together ideas from teachers all over about how they use our games. And we've finally put all that information together into a brochure. They're full color and have graphics in them, so they're not exactly small... but here's the outside ... and here's the inside. They're designed to be printed on one page, front and back, and Z-folded.

Eventually, the Looney Academy plans to expand these PDFs into full, interactive web pages. But I didn't want to hold this resource back if you can use it. Please feel free to print it out and show it around to your colleagues. Also, these pages will be ones that grow as we gain knowledge – so if you feel that there's a national standard that is being met by any of our games – but is not listed on the brochure, then drop me a line and I'll put it on the web page. Also, I'll be looking to add the correlations that our games have to all the various state standards – any ideas you have toward that goal will be greatly appreciated.

Teachers have the toughest job in the world – you've got to satisfy students, parents, and administrators, as well as state, local, and national officials and community expectations. You've got to get through the entire curriculum as approved by the board and meet all national and state standards. So every moment in your classroom has to be one that lets you get one more thing ticked off your checklist. Aligning Looney Labs games to the standards, and getting that information out to teachers is the best way I can think of to encourage our students and future leaders in getting classtime to play some great games that can perhaps help them change the world.

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