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Subject: Gaming with High Schoolers in the AVID program. rss

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Bart Brunscheen
United States
Wichita
Kansas
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I'm an avid gamer (a member of the Wichita Area Boardgamers) and a police sergeant and wanted to start a program where I could play some Euro games with kids. My department is always looking for good youth intervention programs that help break down the barriers between cops and kids and I was hoping to involve members of the board game group as well. High schoolers are usually the hardest to reach and most of their contacts with police at this age are negative.

I contacted the SRO (School Resource Officer) at a High School in my response zone and he thought it was a great idea. He teased me a about playing board games since I'm more of a rough and tumble guy but after I explained how Euro games work (he was thinking Life and Monopoly) he told me if I got the program up and running he would join in. My SRO told me he thought the games would work well with a program called AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination)
AVID is a four-year regularly scheduled elective college preparatory
class for disadvantaged students with academic potential. Both
teachers and tutors are trained to use specific teaching methodologies
and materials to work with these students in preparation for college. I spoke with the teacher that ran the program. After I explained the games she saw the potential of what I was offering. Another teacher had played Settlers and helped me explain the educational level that is hidden underneath the play. She also loved the idea of cops and civilian professionals interacting with the kids.

I learned AVID met often but there were three 1-hour blocks every other Friday. Perfect. During these long blocks the students meet with many different groups in order to prepare and plan for college. There's some down time and the games fit in perfect.

I took two cops with me for the first session to scout out the situation and after a few bumps in the road I learned that Euro games and the AVID program are a good match. Here's how the introduction to Euro games at our final class setting went that day.

We moved to our third classroom and I'm told I have a good hour
plus. I dispense with many of the introductions which slowed down the
last class, broke the kids into groups and separated the Apples to Apples kids into a separate classroom (that game went so well in a prior session that fellow students complained it distracted from the game they were playing. A good sign). Officer Oblinger and I broke out Ticket to Ride and Medici, respectively. I brought these three games because I knew Apples could handle a large amount of people and one of my officers was not a gamer and could manage this game. Oblinger loves TTR and it's a good gateway game and Medici has a lot of player interaction and some good long term planning strategy.

Things went splendidly. All of us finished our games. My group wanted
to play again but there were some break out sessions with college
planners and that took priority which I fully supported. I had two
kids ask me where Medici came from. They were blown away with the
player interaction and bidding strategy. I had a sharp group and they
caught on fast. The game was close and ended with a surprise win for
a young lady who sent high fives around the table including me. She
did very well and won by almost maxing her bonus points in two
categories and keeping her boat total in the middle range through all
three rounds. They all begged us to come back. As we were cleaning
up a tall African American young man came over from the TTR game just
completed, shook my hand and thanked me for coming. I told him we
would be back and he was ear to ear.

I was jazzed. This was exactly what I was looking for. Several
teachers were impressed and I could hear the kids talking up the
different games.


I think the AVID program is a great place for Euro games and from what I understand the program started in the western states and has been migrating east. If you have a game group this would be a great way to reach out to kids and get them involved in a good social activity. Most kids don't even know these kinds of games are out there. Lets bring them on board.

Armed-Medic (Bart)

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Zack Stockdale
United States
Auburn
Washington
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Thanks for the post, I need to try and talk to the AVID teachers in my school about doing this.

Also there are a lot of middle schools with AVID now a days you might want to look at.
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Bart Brunscheen
United States
Wichita
Kansas
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Middle schools are good to. I've worked with all three levels and enjoy the high school the most. The advanced age and maturity of the students seems to be a good fit for me and the euro games.
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Christopher DeFrisco
United States
Ashland
Oregon
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Bravo Bart!
Excellent story. Keep up the brilliant work.
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Tony Ripley
United States
Birmingham
Alabama
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Bart,

This is a great story - and talk about win/win/win!
I look forward to the day when I can get involved like this.

Onward
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Bart Brunscheen
United States
Wichita
Kansas
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I've got some more work ahead of me. I talked to the SRO today and found out I was supposed to show up at four classrooms not three. The first day at this was a little unorganized on their part. My main problem is that the class I missed belonged to the teacher that runs the program. She told all the kids they would be playing games and me and my two guys didn't show. A major gaff on my part. I thought it odd that I hadn't seen her but figured a sub in one of the classrooms was her replacement. Hopefully I won the other teachers and kids over. When I learned of my mistake I emailed my apologies and asked for a schedule with times and classrooms for next time. She responded with a statement about meeting with the other teachers before she continued the program to see if it was something they wanted to continue to do. At the very least I blew the first impression with her. The SRO apologized too. He was going to stay with me and lead me around as a middle man but he got called off to court. Hopefully I made nice. There are several other High schools that have the program but I already have a lot of time invested in this school to drop it now. Hopefully she was just being cautious when she said she needed to meet with the other teachers before deciding if the program should go on. I knew the first time out would have some problems which is why I didn't bring any civilians. I also asked for a schedule showing times and classrooms so I could take the bull by the horns. I never got that. I'll keep anyone interested in the final outcome.
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Bart Brunscheen
United States
Wichita
Kansas
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Thanks Blair and I'll keep chugging along. I knew the first outing would be haphazard and anticipated most of the problems we had. That was one reason I waited to invite some of my civilian volunteers. I just hope I didn't blow the whole thing by missing the teacher that controls the entire program. I've got a good feeling about this program and was really impressed with how well the first day actually went even with my gaff, so hopefully she hears good things back from the groups we did get to play games with.

Thanks for the continued support and I'll follow up with additional posts as we get this train up and chugging.
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Bart Brunscheen
United States
Wichita
Kansas
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I've had further contact with the head of the program and everything seems good to go. I'm supposed to have a schedule emailed to me Monday. She told me the teachers have reported the kids had a good time and both kids and teachers want us back any time we can come by. Now we just need to get this thing up and running with some regularity.
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Bart Brunscheen
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Wichita
Kansas
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I just got confirmation that my cops will be gaming with the AVID kids on Halloween. That should be fun. My gaming club as shown interest in helping out. This should allow me to have 5-7 volunteers teaching games. I'm going to consistently bring the same games to each happening and then build on or swap out as time goes by or things change. The first outing I used Apples to Apples, TTR and Medici. If I can get at least five helpers this time I am adding Pandemic and any volunteers choice of game that we can teach and play in one hour. I'll bring a couple fillers like 'No Thanks' and Coloretto as well. I liked the mix of a party game, a solid gateway game, an easy heavy player interaction bidding game and a good quick Coop game. I think it displays a good mix of what's out there as far as games go and allows kids to try out the different aspects and to even gravitate to what they like as time goes by.
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Bart Brunscheen
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Wichita
Kansas
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More good news from the teacher running the AVID program. She has combined 4 classes into two giving us 2 big classes to work with and about and hour and 15 minutes. The larger group of kids means I have to scramble to come up with more helpers to teach the games but if this arrangement works well it also means I will be able to work in some longer and more complex games over time. I'll have a full report after the event on Halloween.
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Bart Brunscheen
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Wichita
Kansas
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Well we pulled it off.

Knowing I would have two large groups of kids I set fourth rounding up as many volunteers as I could and one conscript. Two members of the Wichita Board Gamers were able to jump in and help out. Greg S. and August (masauwu). My four volunteers from the police department were Oblinger, Cooley, Ogden (photo lab tech) and me. My last volunteer/conscript was Thornton. Oblinger got called into court on a homicide trial and wasn't sure he would make it to the event. Thornton is Cooley's partner and jumped in under duress.

The location for the games was changed to a medium sized room attached to the library. It was a little close quarters and a loud (Apples to Apples) but it worked nicely and we didn't have to break the games down and move around like gypsies.

Our first group of kids were Freshman and Sophomore's. There were 44 of them and it went very well. We got a little break in between and then the Junior's and Senior's came in. Before we could get started there was a fire drill. This took me back to my HS days. Our little group tried to hide out in our room but a building manager caught us and said we too had to go (this was just like HS). This cut into our playing time and two of the TTR games didn't get finished but the kids didn't seem to care too much.

For both sets of kids we ran the following games. Two different groups playing Apples to Apples each group with about 10 kids. Two games of TTR and one of TTR Europe. Greg taught Medici both times. For the first group I taught Cartagena and for the 2nd Medici. I got done with my game of Medici pretty fast (I had 5 kids that played it last time) so I broke out No Thanks and got in two rounds. I had hoped to break out Pandemic, 10 days in Asia and a cool lunar landing game that Greg brought but with the number of kids we had we were forced to play games that could handle 5+ kids. I think re-enforcing the games we played last time worked well however.

Greg had a nice added touch. He brought 100+ buttons that were green and said "I'm an AVID Gamer". Each kid and teacher got one and they all loved them. Before the last group of kids left the AVID coordinator asked me to talk to the kids about why we were there and then invited us back for Friday Nov 14th. SUCCESS!!!

I told the kids we were there to show them some unique games that were out there and how much fun they were. I told them it was also important for me to reach out to kids, especially at the HS age and interact with them as a person and a police officer. I told the kids I liked to get to know them in a very social and fun way and board games are a great way to do it.

As the kids left they thanked us for being involved but best of all I could hear them telling their buddies about the games they played and how they couldn't wait to play some more. Some of them approached me or the other guys helping out and asked where they could buy the games or play them further. For both we referenced our open gaming nights and pointed out how they were free entertainment and since we play at a game store they can also purchase them there. Next time I'll bring some fliers that give more information and just give them out to the kids that are interested.

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Bart Brunscheen
United States
Wichita
Kansas
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Thanks for the support.

Greg S. or as he is known here (GS in KS) also suggested I bring Wits and Wagers next round. I've heard that one of the Cons set it up kind of like a game show with teams. How did the teams play work (how many on a team, how many teams playing at one time)? We want another game that can handle a lot of kids at one time. Running Apples to Apples is great with ten but I have two sets of kids doing that and want a little variety for them. We thought Wits & Wagers might fill the gap. Does anyone have any other ideas on a game that can handle 10 easily and lightly?
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Bart Brunscheen
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Wichita
Kansas
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Wits and Wagers is definitely in!! I went and read a post under the W&W section and found some great info about a guy using it during a wedding reception. I'm going to use 7 teams of two. This will pick up 14 kids and be a little more structured the apples to apples. This kids really like Apples too so I will keep a game of that going as well.
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Bart Brunscheen
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Wichita
Kansas
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Another day of AVID and I'm a little short on volunteers. GS in KS has agreed to teach Wits & Wagers with 2 kids on a team. That should ease some of the pressure and I plan to co-opt a teacher and have them run Apples to Apples.
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Bart Brunscheen
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Wichita
Kansas
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Another AVID event in the books. I think we finally hit our sweet spot. During the last event I had 7 volunteers and two groups of students (42,48)in a moderately sized room. It was hot and loud and due to the number of students the volunteer gamers weren't able to join in on the games, there just wasn't room. I also learned getting 7 volunteers on any kind of routine basis wasn't going to pan out. I contacted the coordinator, let her know we loved the room but needed to shrink the number of students we dealt with at one time. She felt sending only two of the 4 classes to us at two different times instead of the 4 classes condensed into two groups would solve the problem and it did. The only down side is the kids as a group will only see us once a month. That's still not bad.

We introduced Wits and Wagers this time around and it was a hit. I'll let GS in KS talk about that.

I had the privilege to join in a 5 person game of TTR. When the Sophomore's came in I heard a group start looking around the tables and calling TTR their game. I hadn't set it up yet and one African American kid went and got if off the desk, took it to a table and started setting it up with 3 others. I asked if they had a 5th and when they didn't I joined in. The young man (Dexter) who had retrieved TTR from the desk said he had already ordered the game off the internet, it had arrived a week and a half ago and he had been getting his friends and family to play. We made introductions and started playing. It was a great game. Everyone was confident in their play but Dexter was sure he would win. At the end of the game I was leading him by 1 with a score of 121. Dexter was one ahead of me when figuring out the score and was so sure he won that he was giving everyone some jazz. After moving ahead by 1 I turned the tables on him and gave it right back. We did a couple high fives and then he said "who got the longest route?", I had totally forgotten to check. The whole table got into figuring it out but I could see Dexter's longest route used all but 4 of his trains and I didn't have all of mine on the board. Dexter ended up winning by 9. There were some more high fives and a lot of fun.

I was also a little more prepared for this game session and had printed up some fliers on our board game groups next game session which was to happen the next day (Saturday) at 7pm. I handed them out. Dexter said he had thought about coming since the last school session but forgot where it was. I also mentioned on the flier that any AVID kid that showed up wearing the "I'M AN AVID GAMER" that GS in KS had made and handed out would get a free pop provided by me. Hopefully we get some kids to show up, I think Dexter will make it there sooner or later.

Apples to Apples was played again and has quite a following. The kids don't need much direction here. The only downside is I can't get some of these kids to try different games. Hopefully that will change.

No Thanks was a big hit again, Cartagena, Medici and Pandemic also hit the table.

At one point I looked up and saw GS teaching Shear Panic but I didn't see how well that went. It seemed like only 15 minutes later he was setting up TTR Europe.

So once again a good session and the volunteers are getting to play as well.
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Bart Brunscheen
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Wichita
Kansas
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Thanks. ATA has been good for the kids that aren't sure about the board game scene. It is a big hit, kids playing other games often go over and tell them to quite down.

I've learned that the kids talk about the games away from the gaming table so hopefully some will be drawn into a little game diversity.

Thanks for the feedback, everyone keep it coming.
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Greg Schmittgens
United States
Wichita
Kansas
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Just to fill in a few blanks. . .

The first session, I ran/played Medici. With three students who already knew the game, it completed quickly. We still had time, so I brought out Shear Panic (they saw the box and said What's That?). After starting the explanation (got to number of points for being near Roger the Ram), they all said 'Let's do something else'.

With less than 30 minutes left, I brought out Ticket to Ride Europe and dumbed it down (no restriction on picking up two 'rainbows', no stations, tunnels, or ferries). When we ran out of time, one player still had about 12 trains left. The scores were wildly divergent (because there wasn't enough time to complete tickets), but it gave them a taste.

Wits and Wagers - Ran six games of that. Got up to max players the last two games, so I just emceed (didn't feel like adding different chits, markers, etc).

Most of the players got into what was happening (who really knows the diameter of Saturn??), but one kid kept saying 'I don't know the answer to that!!'.

High points -

1. When the history teacher joined in, and didn't know some of the more obscure dates. (Again, who does?)

2. When an obscure question came up that I did know (in a game I was emceeing) and everyone overestimated. I reminded all players of the 'All Guesses Too High' slot. Immediately, all the bets got moved to that place. Play poker much?!? cool
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Bart Brunscheen
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I was watching when Greg reminded the players that they could bet on all guesses too high after saying he thought he knew the answer. This was also one of my highlights. Seeing the kids think about it, glance at the felt board and then have a majority place their bets on all bets too high had me chuckling.
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Bart Brunscheen
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Wichita
Kansas
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We got our last session in for the year this last Friday. The teacher called me and asked if we could come a week early. She told me our standard time conflicted with finals. I checked with my volunteers and we moved our time up.

I can tell you we've found the sweet spot. I was able to get 6 volunteers with little work and even forgot to call one of my guys. The mid-sized room located just off from the library is perfect for the one class at a time, two classes a day, gaming sessions with about an hour to game. One of the teachers commented Friday how much nicer, cooler and quieter the room was. All my volunteers are able to join in the games with the students and not just teach them. One of my main goal being to interact with this difficult age group not just babysit. Pandemic is now on our permanent lineup of games and GS in KS brought Ivanhoe to this session and the kids seemed to enjoy it. Medici also has a strong following that love the player interaction.

Apples to Apples is still a big hit and has a strong following. This last round Officer Cooley, who runs the game, set up only 8 chairs in an attempt to get some of the kids to try other games, it worked with the Juniors but the Freshman just pulled two more chairs over. We let them do that of course, we were just trying to gently nudge them to new games. TTR is still getting a lot of action. We've brought TTR E out a few times as well and I'm torn about which won to have preset up. Europe is a kinder gentler version but the kids struggle with finding the cities. They'll learn of course but I like seeing them talk about tripping through Vegas and what not.

Well the program is running strong and I look forward to continued success in the new year.

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Giles Pritchard
Australia
Shepparton
Victoria
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This is a fantastic story Bart! I really enjoyed reading it and will make sure I keep a check on it to see how you're going.

If you're interested there may be a competition running at the www.gamesforeducators.com website you could enter. Great stuff!

Cheers,

Giles.
 
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vincit omnia amentia
United States
Howard County
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I was wondering if you had seen this

http://www.funagain.com/control/rc?p=grants

And I just wanted to say this is a wonderful story and keep up the good work.
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Bart Brunscheen
United States
Wichita
Kansas
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Thanks Giles, your work in schools and coverage of that work on the Dice Tower and at On Board Games gave me the inspiration. Thanks for the work you do. I'll go check this link out.
 
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Bart Brunscheen
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Wichita
Kansas
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Thanks Bag Pipe,

Someone mentioned the grant a bit ago and I went and threw my application in the ring. If I win I would love to use the Grant to add 'Say Anything' to my games lineup. The kids have had fun with Wits & Wagers so I'm sure it would be a hit.
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Bart Brunscheen
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Kansas
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If anyone has some game ideas they think would be good with the HS kids add a post and let me know. I've got a solid line up but I'm always looking for more. The 10 Days series is on my short list already.
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Jason Cheng
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Not sure how I missed this thread for the past 3 months but thank you for sharing and keeping it up to date. It's always a joy to hear about gaming with kids. You know what would be even better, some pictures to go along if you can manage it.

As for suggestions, you could consider quick card games like Sleuth, 6 Nimmt!, Poison and Die Sieben Siegel.

And yes, you should definitely plan to come to BGG.con in 2009 (in response to your profile)
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