Archive for Thursday, March 2, 2006

Board games teach lessons to students

March 2, 2006

You're the boss and you can't fire the customer.

These are two real-life situations that businessmen and women deal with daily. In the past month, Lansing High School business students also have started to grapple with these situations and others. But instead of facing the issues in real life, they're doing it by playing games.

In November, LHS business teacher Sue Lednicky received a mini-grant from the Lansing Educational Foundation Fund to buy nine business-oriented board games for her classes. The games involve budgeting, hiring and firing of employees, job interviews and ethics.

Lednicky said she saw the games last year in an educator's catalog. Later, when she heard about the grants being offered, she applied for $433 to buy nine games. The games arrived in mid-January, Lednicky said.

The games are used as an incentive for students to finish their work, she said. Classes can earn a free day by keeping focused and getting work done. Goofing off decreases when the students know they can have a whole class period of free time, Lednicky said.

"The kids like it," she said of the game time. "I like it."

Last semester, she allowed students to surf the Internet when they earned a free day, but it was difficult to monitor the sites students visited, she said. Now that she has the games, Lednicky said, the students are away from the computer and she doesn't have to worry about what sites they visit. Plus, they are learning when they use the games, even if they don't know it, she said.

"I want to do it because the kids need to know this stuff," she said. "I like to help kids in any way I can."

At the last free day, students in one class played Join My Team, You're Hired and You're the Boss.

Freshman Nick Domann said he liked the games. He was playing You're the Boss, in which players had to deal with competing businesses, construction problems and employees who fail drug tests.

"It's very realistic because you don't know who you've hired until later," he said.

Lednicky picked games that caught her eye, she said. She said she chose those that could help students with problems such as conflict resolution.

"Conflict resolution applies to overall life, not just in work," she said.

She also chose games that teachers in other areas, such as economics, could use, and she said her colleagues were free to borrow them.

So far, her students in the Future Business Leaders of America club haven't had much opportunity to use the games, Lednicky said, but that will change in the future. A team of students will compete in business ethics at the state FBLA competition, she said, and she thought playing the ethics games would be good practice.

Of all the games, Lednicky said You're the Boss and Budget City seemed to be the most popular.

Her favorite is Budget City, she said. In that game, each player is trying to make money but can be dealt an unexpected expense at any time.

"It's a good one for someone who's not a risk-taker : you can't manipulate it," she said. "It is real life."

Lednicky said she had more in-depth plans for the games. In the future, she said she hoped to have more discussions with the students about what happened in each game and what they learned from it.

"My goal is to find a way to incorporate it as part of the class, take it a step further," she said. "It's not just fun but knowing that they're learning from it, too."

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