Aviv Porath, aged 11
Q2L (stands for Quest to Learn) is the first American school with a curriculum built around gaming principles, a public school where kids design and play computer games, solve problems, and explore. Located in Gramercy Park, NYC, it is endorsed, supported and supervised by the department of education. Only seventy-three students were accepted, and Aviv, my 11-year-old grandson, was one of them.
I asked him to tell me more about how the school works. “Like its name,” he explained, “almost everything is expressed in abbreviations (SFTM, TWTW, CW, ELA, etc.).” I couldn’t keep up with him and suggested he type it up for me. Aviv produced a carefully edited printout with the following information:
Quest to learn!
School for digital kids.
Written by Aviv Porath
The model of the school (How it works):
A mission takes place throughout the trimester (3 semesters in a school year, which means 3 missions a year)
The mission is split into sections or units A.K.A. (also known as…) quests.
SFTM: Sports for the mind (GAME DESIGN)
Mostly using Gamestar mechanic*, or Google sketchup* on computers.
Codeworlds (MATH/ELA) (ELA stands for English language arts)
In this class we have to solve mysteries, look at crime scene evidence, crack codes (MATH codes and ELA codes) and it is really fun!!!
The way things work (SCIENCE/MATH)
In this class we help little rag dolls, called Troggles, from the Play station (a game console) and Playstation3 game “Little big planet”. The Troggles are always trying to make and build inventions and always mess up and need the help of the students of Q2L. While we help them, we also learn.
BSP: Being space and place (Social Studies/ELA)
In this class there is a man named Hampton who works for a reality TV show called “Forgotten Territories”, (which is basically a mix of “The Amazing Race” and “Survivor Man”) who asked for our help to pick and learn about interesting locations on the globe and if they would make good television.
Well: Wellness (Health/Gym)
In this class we help an alien named Pleku, (supposedly a SPORE* creature) compete in the Mind Balance Olympiad. In the Olympiad there are many challenges that anyone can compete. One of the challenges this year is the eyes-closed-one foot balance challenge … which, if read carefully, is pretty self-explanatory. Pleku is competing in this challenge, but needs help and advice for balancing techniques, how to stay and eat healthy and encouragement. That is where we come in.
In the gym part of wellness, we are training for our own Mind Balance Olympiad. We each organize a training plan of how we will motivate ourselves to train (Ex: Every time I train I will treat myself to a piece of candy.)
Another thing we do is, we each pick an athletic training component (ATC) and learn about it and how we can train and get better at it.
The eight ATC’s are: speed, coordination, teamwork, rhythm/musicality, strength, endurance, balance, and flexibility.
But since we don’t know any of the real challenges, we create our own. There is a committee of students and teachers who look at ALL the submitted challenges and pick several finalists. (Mine was a finalist!!!)
Learning Strategies Annex: Annex (reading strategies).
In Annex, we read and learn about reading strategies like R.A.P.:
(R: Read the paragraph. A: Answer these questions: What was the main idea? What are some details? P: Put the main idea and details into your own words.)
Annex classes (Ex: TWTW Annex) are when you learn or do things in a class that don’t really have to do with what you are currently learning in that class. (For Ex: In TWTW we are learning about simple machines. But, one day we learned about Swine Flu.)
The teachers at Q2L are very forgiving. They have a list of all the HW assignments you brought in. At the end of the month they show it to you. If you forgot to bring it in or got something incorrect, the teachers generously give you a week to do or correct it, or turn it in and get full credit.
An online website designed for the school where you can play and rate other kids’ games and design your very own games too.
(The latest version is Google Sketch-up 7) a downloadable program used to design and make 3d models of mazes, houses or basically anything…
(anybody can download it off the internet for free.)
A computer game where you create an alien and guide it through its life, (very fun!)
Aviv’s description was a mind-blowing peep into an innovative, puzzling world of inane abbreviations, populated by imaginary aliens speaking an incomprehensible foreign language. He finds Q2L fun and challenging. I’m happy that he’s happy. I can only hope and trust that this experiment will WOW (Work out well) and BAS (Be a success). TWT (Time will tell).