- Sponsorship -

‘Thinking about my world and deciding how to make it’

A sixth-grade social studies class at Kelloggsville Middle School is making good use of a popular piece of map-making software.

Weston Haveman with his holiday map

The wrinkle? It’s not educational software. It’s called Inkarnate, and it has legendary status among Dungeons & Dragons players who use it to create the intricate and detailed maps the game demands.

First-year Kelloggsville teacher Bryce Pulley is one such D&D aficionado. He said making the software a pedagogical tool to help his students learn about islands and archipelagos and peninsulas and more made perfect sense.

“I always try to find ways to make class more enjoyable for not only the kids but also myself,” he said. “A common criticism by students of social studies and geography is that it is boring. As an avid Dungeons & Dragons player for the last nearly 10 years, I’ve been making maps for my own games, so it was a perfect fit to implement a map-making software I was familiar with into my classroom.”

Lisa Lin laughs as she describes pizza roll island

Rafting Off Pizza Roll Island

During a recent class period, two of his students – Lisa Lin and Kira Sherrill – were working on their monthly map challenge, and smiling and chatting about what was on their screens.

Lisa was making what she called “pizza roll island.”

“I screenshotted this picture,” she said, “and now I’m playing around with it in Paint. It’s for the creative map contest, so, like, yeah. It’s different; it’s fun.”

The two then started talking about eating the island before a visitor noted that eventually they’d eat themselves out of a place to live.

“That’s when you raft off the island on the last pizza roll and eat it when you get to safety,” answered a nearby student with a matter-of-fact attitude that made it clear the visitor hadn’t thought nearly enough about living on a pizza roll island.

Across the room, Weston Haveman was working on a map called “Santa’s secret workshop” and talking animatedly about what he had included in the world and why.

“I put a whole bunch of mountains here,” he said, jabbing at his screen, “and a big fort and a big ice thing down here. It’s very detailed, and I still have to add all these dead trees yet. Yeah, it’s a lot of fun.”

Kira Sherrill, left, and Lisa Lin hard at work

Learning Behind the Scenes

Pulley likes that his students are having fun, but he said they’re also learning a lot more than they probably even realize as they use the software to bring their imaginations to life.

“When they’re doing the monthly map challenges, it’s nice when the learning is happening behind the scenes while they’re having fun,” he said. “When they’re actively creating their fantasy world but having to meet the requirements such as X amount of mountains, Y amount of islands, an archipelago, etcetera, I’ve found that the information sticks in their minds a lot easier than just looking at the same old world map.”

Pulley said he also likes that the software helps his students tap into some deeper and not-as-noticed skills they might not even be aware they are developing, like creativity, critical thinking, decision making, graphic design and even work ethic.

In the words of a quiet sixth grader named Cody Liang, who someday would like to be a computer engineer: “I really like thinking about my world and then getting on the computer and deciding how to make it, creating something new.”

CONNECT

Inkarnate Map-Making Software

- Sponsorship -
Phil de Haan
Phil de Haan
Phil de Haan covers Grand Rapids and Kelloggsville and also is a general assignment reporter and the point person for the SNN Facebook and Twitter feeds. He hails from Exeter, Ontario, but has called Grand Rapids home since 1985. He is the son of a longtime public school teacher who taught both English and machine shop! Phil took both classes at South Huron District High School, but English stuck, and at Calvin College, where he met his wife, Sue, he majored in English and minored in journalism. His background includes both freelance writing and public relations work, including teaching an advertising and PR course at the college level. In the summer of 2019, he began his own freelance writing and communications business. In his spare time, Phil plays pick-up hockey and pickleball and tries to keep tabs on his two adult children.  Read Phil's full bio or email Phil.

LATEST ARTICLES

‘Hope on the horizon’ as local teachers start getting COVID-19 vaccine

Lincoln School special education teacher, Ann Post believes there is 'hope on the horizon' for Kent ISD teachers and educators across Kent County after receiving her first round of the COVID-19 vaccine...

Sisters land grant to help those who ‘aren’t as lucky as we are’

Sisters at Page Elementary researched and wrote a grant to help homeless kids at Family Promise of Barry County...

Virtual counseling office offers ‘one-stop’ services

The site offers new ways for students to connect, on anything from academic questions to mental health issues...

Good behavior encouraged at home

For students learning from home, positive behavior rewards are still possible...

3 COMMENTS

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related Articles

Pieces of past Rocket pride remain part of the present

The history of the district is preserved in a six-panel history wall at the high school...

Have cart, will travel

A Southeast Kelloggsville Elementary music teacher has a new cart for her ukuleles, thanks to her school, her husband and the Kent Career Tech Center...

Schools in nine districts announce closures as COVID cases spike

New temporary school building closures were announced by nine school districts in Kent ISD this week, as schools contend with a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases in Kent County and Michigan...
- Sponsorship -

HOW'S SCHOOL TODAY?

Engagement: The Most Important Measure of Student Success

Polls find that students’ engagement in their school work declines as they ascend the grades. Tests that don’t relate to their real-life experiences exacerbate the problem...

RADEMACHER & FRIENDS

Food ‘angels’ support hungry kids through pandemic

They work all across Kent County, guardian angels with peanut butter on their hands and crumbs on their shirtsleeves...
- Sponsorship -

MEDIA PARTNERS

Maranda Where You LiveWGVU

SUSTAINING SPONSORS