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Teaching global issues using games

05 October 2018

Three student teachers developed new games for students to learn about climate change and refugees

Amy Cronin and Ellen O’ Leary created "The Twisted Game of Climate Change" to teach young children about the impact of climate change. Photo : Trócaire.

Amy Cronin and Ellen O’ Leary created "The Twisted Game of Climate Change" to teach young children about the impact of climate change. Photo : Trócaire.

It is World Teacher's Day today, and we've invited three student teachers to write a guest blog for Trócaire. Amy Cronin, Ellen O’ Leary and Carol Griffin from Mary Immaculate College completed a project with Trócaire. They created innovative new games to teach students about climate change and refugees.

As third year student teachers with a mutual interest and passion for Development Education, we designed and created pilot versions of two resources. These resources aid teaching of the topics of climate change and migration.

We believe that Development Education is an effective teaching methodology which positively supports learning within the classroom environment in an interactive and enjoyable manner.

The Twisted Game of Climate Change

From our group, Amy and Ellen created “The Twisted Game of Climate Change”. The game is a transformation of the well-known game ‘Twister’, and is a way to assess children’s knowledge on the topic of climate change and its effects.

We trialled the game with a local primary school and reviewed both the teachers' and pupils' feedback.  The feedback showed that the game stimulated children and teachers during this pilot day. The feedback also allowed us to acknowledge improvements needed. Suggestions for improvement included providing teachers with the structure and rules of the game and encouraging them to also adapt the theme or topics to meet the needs of the children in their classroom.

The game can be adapted for use throughout primary and secondary level education. We want to encourage teachers to see how accessible and beneficial this game can be in aiding both the teaching and learning within the classroom.

From reviewing the opportunities it can create with regard to integration and developing children’s knowledge and understanding in relation to climate change, it is clear that this resource should be used in every classroom regardless of class level or previous learning.


Amy Cronin and Ellen O’ Leary created "The Twisted Game of Climate Change" to teach young children about the impact of climate change. Photo : Trócaire.

Board game on refugees and migration

The other member of our group, Carol, created a board game which stemmed from her research about the Syrian refugee crisis.

Carol's research revealed other countries such as Afghanistan and Somalia who were enduring the same plight with much less media coverage. She felt it was important to emphasis that ‘Syrian’ and ‘refugee’ are not synonymous terms and choose to focus on Afghan refugees traveling to Italy.

The design of the resource takes the format of a board game where players are given character profiles based on the real-life accounts of refugees. The barriers featured along the board span financial, national, linguistic, geographical, as well as personal barriers.

The educational value of the game lies in the 'fact files'. These include child-friendly explanations of the terms refugee, asylum seeker and migrant.

Carol initially trialled this game on a pilot day with 3rd class students and received an overwhelmingly positive response from both teachers and pupils. The way the information was presented engaged the children from the outset and made the learning fun.

Our meeting with Trócaire provided us with extremely useful feedback. We discussed new possibilities for the resource including gender barriers, using non-national Afghans characters, and including a financial advantage for wealthier characters. The resource itself was designed as an assessment tool to be used at the end of a session on migration.

Carol Griffin together with her fellow students and Trócaire's Development Education team, shows her refugee board game. Photo : Trócaire.
Carol Griffin together with her fellow students and Trócaire's Development Education team, shows her refugee board game. Photo : Trócaire.

Where to next?

As a group, we intend to continue to pilot our resources during our Extended Placement in the Autumn of 2018. During this teaching practice, we will all experience teaching both a junior class and a class from 1st-6th. This allows us to use our resources with a variety of ages and abilities.

In relation to advising teachers on using our resources, one must remember that both resources are to be used as assessment tools at the end of a week or session on the chosen topic.

We would also advise teachers to remember that Development Education is most enjoyable and effective when using interactive resources. It allows for an increased amount of discussion and engagement.

Thanks!

Trócaire would like to thank Amy, Ellen and Carol, and indeed all of our supporters working in schools throughout Ireland for teaching your class the meaning of true kindness.

Trócaire can offer a range of educational options for students and teachers, including:

  • School visits and talks during Lent;
  • Development Education cross-curricular resources;
  • Active learning workshops;
  • Professional Development workshops for staff;
  • fundraising ideas and materials including our Sign Up Sign Out challenge and the famous Trócaire Box.

Learn more about our schools work here.

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