Here’s another crazy idea, both more plausible and further along in its development than the last. Here’s the setup: I take my Introduction to Programming class (which is mostly juniors and seniors) over to an elementary school. They meet a class of students (who are, let’s say, in 5th grade) and their teacher. They interview the students and the teacher to find out what they are learning in school, what kinds of games they like to play on the computer, and what they think is cool.
Then I ask my students to develop proposals for educational video games that the 5th grade students will enjoy, and that will challenge them and help them learn. The 5th grade students come and (along with their teacher) watch my students give presentations of their proposals. They give us feedback. We make the games. We come back to their school and have them beta-test the games. We watch them play, interview them, and perhaps they follow up with some written thoughts. My students refine the games, and we have a final release celebration at the school with the 5th grade class in attendance, where they all play the games.
I say that this is further along in its development than my other crazy ideas because yesterday I actually visited an elementary school and talked with a 5th grade teacher who is interested in doing this. I walked in thinking this was going to be a simple class-to-class visit attached to a project, but came away realizing that it’s really a collaboration in terms of planning and teaching. It’s going to take a bit of doing to get all the dates figured out, but I think it will be worth it. I don’t have much more figured out yet than what I wrote here, so ideas for elaboration or tighter integration are most welcome!