I have a confession to make: I spent the first two weeks of July rolling my eyes as I read article after article in my social stream about the “transformational power of Pokemon Go.” I had the app on my phone, I’d caught more than a few Pidgeys, and hit up more than a few Poke stops — but to me, there was nothing truly transformational about it. In fact, I was pretty sure that I’d delete the app before school even started.
But then I showed it to my seven year old daughter, and she was hooked!
Something about the clever monster names, colors and actions caught her attention and it’s no exaggeration to say that it has enriched our lives. Each day, the first thing she asks me is, “Dad, want to go for a walk and catch some Pokemon?!” Those moments together are worth everything to me — including the extra $25/month I had to plunk down because I blew up my data plan.
And when my sixth graders started school on Monday, I realized that I just couldn’t ignore Pokemon this year. As soon as I mentioned that I was a Level 16 trainer with a pretty hyped up Vaporeon, stories started. “Oh yeah? Well I have two Snorlaxes!” said one girl. “My dad wasted like 15 Poke balls on a Pidgeotto. He stinks” said another. Needless to say, catching Pokemon is well and truly a middle school craze — and that makes it worth exploring.
Now don’t get me wrong: I STILL don’t think there’s anything transformational about chasing imaginary pocket monsters around. Pokemon Go ISN’T the silver bullet that we’ve all been waiting for to save education.
But I have hatched a plan to use it as a fun team building activity. In just a few short weeks, I’m going to host my first ever Pokemon Go Rally.
Here’s the handout:
The basic plan is to invite parents and their kids to work together in teams to catch Pokemon at a local hot spot that offers free Wifi. My guess is that our first rally will happen at the local mall, given that it is like 105 degrees outside here in North Carolina. To make the game more challenging and to encourage strategic thinking, I’m limiting:
- The time that players have to capture Pokemon.
- The number of Poke Balls that they can use during the rally.
- The extras — incense, lucky eggs, lures — that can be used to increase capture rates.
I’m also awarding bonus points for a range of different captures. Participants who hatch the most eggs or catch the most Rattatas can earn a huge bump to their final point tallies.
All of these limiting factors will force participants to think critically about their choices. If you have only 60 Poke balls, can you really burn four of them trying to catch a Pidgey with a Combat Power of 30? If hatching an egg is worth 100 bonus points, would walking further be a better strategy than hanging out at a Poke stop where a lure has been set to catch whatever happens to show up? Will staying in the well-trafficked areas of the Rally Grounds be a better strategy than traveling as much ground as possible to get away from the other teams who are playing?
In the end, I’m hoping to get a ton of parents and kids to come out and play together for an hour. If it works, it will be an easy way to build a bit of team spirit. Better yet, it will be easy to replicate. All I’ll need is a list of public spaces with free Wifi!
Can you see my unique technology lens here? What matters to me is building a classroom community by bringing people together for a shared experience. Pokemon Go makes that possible. My goal is driving my technology choices — not the other way around.
So whaddya’ think? I know this isn’t transformational, but is it worthwhile? Is it something you’d think about doing?
Looking forward to your feedback.
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