Tiny Hearts at RSCON 2014 – Sat, Jul 11th, 11am EST

I will be presenting on Tiny Hearts at this year’s Reform Symposium Free Online Conference (RSCON 2014) on Saturday, July 11th at 11am EDT / 4pm UK (Friday midnight KST). This is a framework for young learners I developed earlier this year during an EVO session. I will put materials up on this blog regarding that framework before the session, in the meantime here is the brief session abstract:

It has been argued that language learning is an interplay between the cognitive and the social (e.g., Atkinson, 2002), and that using language in socially meaningful ways is key to L2 development (Sykes & Reinhardt, 2012). In addition, the notions of investment and identity in imagined communities (e.g., Norton & Toohey, 2011) posit that learners have various and shifting desires to engage in classroom practices.Therefore, structuring a classroom into a dynamic negotiated community in which social power is evenly distributed and identities are free to explore could offer beneficial effects on L2 acquisition. From these theoretical backgrounds, this presentation will introduce Tiny Hearts, a classroom role-playing game.

In Tiny Hearts, young learners assume the identities of sentient toys earning hearts as they interact with each other and the imagined environment. Working together, students role-play through missions. Each mission can either end favorably or take a wrong turn.Individualized characters, unscripted storylines, dangerous and dramatic situations, as well as unpredictable mission results mean that every lesson is a unique and engaging experience for both the teacher and students.

In this session, I will first introduce classroom role-playing games and compare how they are different from other activities. Referring to a sample chapter created for an EVO session earlier this year, I will then describe how the game is implemented by scaffolding it over the course of several lessons, such that students can succeed each time without it seeming complicated.

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