Many of you may have the day off for Martin Luther King Jr. Day (as you should) and may have already built activities into your curriculum around this important day. With today's students it is often difficult to re-create the spirit and urgency Dr. King conveyed and moreover find ways to make his mission real in the eyes of our 21st century students. As much as many of us like to study history we know many students do not share this passion as for them it is about here and now!
One of Dr. King's lasting legacies is the notion of service to community. Many schools are incorporating service-learning into their curriculum or even goes as far as making it a graduation requirement. This is great progress and I believe when done well, service-learning has the ability to make those direct connections with the community and make the learning real as student’s reflect on their work and its impact.
But it is also hard to find the time in the curriculum, the appropriate projects and mechanisms to put this all in place.
Microsoft Partners in Learning, in partnership with Learn and Serve America, a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service along with game designer Nuvanna, Exploratorium and ePals, have collaborated on a unique socially-networked educational game called InterroBang.
While playing InterroBang students complete missions in the real-world and reflect on these missions when they post their "deeds" to the site. Sound familiar? And, yes, many of the missions have a service component built-in and watching the game being played it is these missions that students seem to gravitate toward, perhaps because these are so much different than how they spend most of their class time. Students than earn points for their missions and prizes are awarded in different categories.
Last year when we piloted InterroBang we had about 8,000 students playing over the course of a couple of months. Just last weekend we had over 160 students post completed deeds representing every state in the U.S. and over 72 countries!
In our partnership with Learn and Serve America we have created a number of missions specifically aligned to MLK Day of Service. You can checkout these new missions and as you move around the site you will find many other service-related missions. These would be an excellent starting point to begin to build service-learning into the classroom.
Teachers and youth leaders can submit their own missions that may align more deeply to the service projects in their community. This gives educators and service project leaders the ability to take advantage of the fun and engaging gaming platform of InterroBang and use it as a component of their service learning projects.
We often need a rallying point to spark a new project or engage kids more deeply in learning. Sometimes it is a current event or something happening in your community. Fortunately the spirit of MLK and his legacy go much beyond the recognition of one day on the calendar. MLK Day of Service and InterroBang might just be that spark to engage students in a new and creative way, bringing together the importance of service to community with the fun of online gaming.
Go checkout InterroBang : www.playinterrobang.com and this video gives a nice overview:
As always, we are interested in your thoughts on how service is playing a role in your school?