Senior Program Associate
Let’s back up. Global Kids was invited to Chattanooga through the Mozilla Gigabit Community Fund to train local educators in a Global Kids designed curriculum where students investigate local history and create a socially conscious, geo-locative game related to their historical content. (Think Pokemon GO, but the Pokemon are historical figures and you are a social justice time traveler.)
Haunts was created to be student interest driven, but this professional development (PD) training demonstrated the importance of giving educators time to explore a program as a participant before bringing it to students. Through a personalized and collaborative learning process educators are able to uncover the link between the social ails of the past and present and to make the Chattanooga Haunts program relevant and exciting to its youth.
We began the PD as we begin the Hauntscurriculum, with a community walk and open dialogue to elicit what the participants already know about the area’s history. The conversation that began deepened over the course of three days as we moved through the curriculum, from game coding to research and back again.
What do you see? Who is here? What are they doing? How do you feel in this space?
Prying the educators for possible “ghost stories” to explore in their game, I inquired about the naming of Martin Luther King Boulevard. Did King have a role in the civil rights movement here? The answer I got was not so simple.
“Remember the I Have A Dream Speech? There’s a reason he says, ‘Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee…’ Do you know why?”
Back in the library and filled with newfound questions, we continued to tour Chattanooga on Google Maps. An educator noted that, MLK Boulevard aside, many of the city’s street names did point to individuals of local significance. Avenue after avenue, there were the names of Chattanooga’s founding families; those who’d played a big role in building the original city and investing in the railroad and trade industries. Before long, we were looking through a private collection of books on these families. Excitement grew and we began to realize that these family surnames matched prominent figures in modern Chattanooga– from local politicians to leaders of the region’s foundations, nonprofits, and the city’s rising tech industry. The ghosts from the past were catching up to our present!
PD trainings let educators play, be students, explore the ideas most important to them, and draw upon all of their existing knowledge. As they went through the curriculum as participants, these educators didn’t have to curtail their game ideas to fit core curriculum or censor themselves to accommodate the knowledge level of a middle schooler. They were able to enjoy a creative process authentic to their own strengths and knowledge and uncovered some challenges and curious truths along the way. Now, they are equipped with the inspiration, creativity, and skills to translate their own experience for the students they know best, and to create a game that is not just student-interest driven, but community driven.