Updated: May 9
What's going on everyone?
A couple of weeks ago, I uploaded my lesson plan and rationale for why teachers should consider teaching with the video game Kind Words developed by Popcannibal I have since gone on to teach with the game myself and I wanted to write a reflection of how it went and provide some student work for you all to look through.
For anyone who needs a refresher from my last post, here is a small description of why I wanted to teach with this game:
"Sometimes we just need to give our students time to be positive. School comes with a lot of stress and providing time for positivity can be a really refreshing experience. An easy way to do this is through free writing. Kind Words is a game that can aid in this process. The game provides the players with several opportunities to write. It is an online game where the player anonymously interact with everyone else playing. The player can send a letter out to the game’s community, respond to messages sent out by other players online, and write up a concern of theirs for other players online to respond to. All of this is set to a playlist of Lo-Fi music beats. The game is set up to be as chill and relaxing as possible in order to build a sense of comfort for the player. There is no end goal of this game other than writing. This lesson will get students accustomed to thinking positively and it provides a space to actually give advice to others in a completely non-threatening and anonymous setting. The game even provides links to mental health resources for any of the players that may need them."
I played this game for two days in my Advisory class, the purpose of which is to provide social-emotional and grade check-ins. I started the lesson by having my students write down a concern of theirs that they were willing to share both in game and with the rest of the class. The student here mentioned that, "One concern I have about this school year is my chemistry class." This concern of theirs was sent out, anonymously, to the video game's community. The game is always played without sharing personal information. Over time my students received responses from other players. You can see in question 2 that a response this student received was that, "It's normal to struggle with things like Chemistry." This was also only one in a number of responses this student received. I should say that there is always a small possibility of receiving a responses that may not help in any way, or be hurtful. In my near fifteen hours of playtime, however, I have never come across anyone or anything, in the game who wasn't trying to be helpful and kind.
Another feature of the game is to just write and send out nice letters to the video game's community. Other players can read these messages, but cannot respond to them. The sole purpose of these letters is to send good vibes to the player-base. These two students on the left wrote, "Never give up, you can do it! Love and peace," and "Always be happy with who you are."I like this part of the game because you don't actually get anything in return. It is a great way to get students acting kind without the expectation of receiving anything. They are just being positive people for the sake of being positive.
The final gameplay aspect of this activity is to offer advice to other players in the game. Since the students sent out their own concerns, I also wanted them to try helping out other people. Looking at question 3, you can see some of the advice my students sent out after reading some of the struggles that other players decided to share. This part was very interesting because my students, at least while in school, are almost always on the receiving end of getting help. They don't have many opportunities in school to actually help, teach, or offer advice to other people. I think this was a great way to get them practicing this skill in a safe and anonymous setting.
The last part of the lesson was for them to answer the Aim: What was the author's purpose in the game Kind Word? My students were learning about author's purpose in their English Language Arts class at the time so I thought it would be beneficial to get them thinking about why the developer, Popcannibal made the game in the first place. I always like to sprinkle a little metacognition into my lessons.
Some key take aways: I played the game together as a class, but I only have one copy of the game available on my computer projected in front of the room. I definitely recommend having some other activity going on while the students rotate as the player. It can get a little boring just watching students type for an entire period. My students were also writing thank you notes to people who hosted us for a field trip previously. That helped keep students occupied when they weren't the ones playing. I also have two students in particular who keep coming to my room during their lunch period to play more. They both really fell in love with providing advice with other players in the game. They like helping others and it gives them extra opportunities to practice their English (my students are all English Language Learners) in a format that is less academic and formulaic.
I definitely plan on teaching with Kind Words again in the future. It is a very simple game that is accessible to people who have never touched a video game in their lives. Plus, I always find it beneficial to give students opportunities to act/be empathetic towards others.
Thanks for reading,