This lesson, appropriate for grades 6-12, will give students an opportunity to explore the effects of poverty and lack of education through an interactive game. Ayiti: The Cost of Life is a web-based, role-playing video game in which the player assumes the roles of family members living in rural Haiti.
- Use an online game to understand conditions in contemporary Haiti and how poverty is an obstacle to education.
- Develop problem-solving, critical thinking and such life skills as resource management, budgeting, and planning for the future.
- Learn about ways in which they can advocate for action to confront poverty and increase access to education in Haiti.
- Computers with internet access for BrainPOP
- Interactive whiteboard (or just an LCD projector)
Preparation:This lesson will give students an opportunity to explore the affects of poverty and lack of education through an interactive game. Ayiti: The Cost of Life is a web-based, role-playing video game in which the player assumes the roles of family members living in rural Haiti. At the start of the game, the player chooses a main goal for his/her family: achieve education, make money, stay healthy, or maintain happiness. During the course of the game, the player encounters unexpected events and must make many decisions that contribute to or detract from achieving the chosen goal.
Portions of this lesson plan have been adapted from the Ayiti teacher's guide provided by Global Kids and Gamelab.
- Build student background knowledge by projecting the Fighting Hunger movie. Discuss the concepts in the movie using the FYI features to encourage discussion.
- Tell students they will have the chance to explore what it is like to live in a developing nation in which hunger is a very real problem. Project the Ayiti game for the class to see.
- Click "play" and walk students through the first few screens. Discuss the different game strategies that they can explore (health, happiness, education, or money.) Which of these would students prioritize over the others? Select an option based on the class discussion and continue, reading and discussing the information that is shown on the screen. You may want to model a few minutes of game play for the class.
- Pair students up and allow them to explore the game for 10-15 minutes. Have students click the button that says "Quit to main menu" which will pause the game (they should leave the box that says "Are you sure you want to quit?" on their screen until they are ready to resume, at which time they can select "Cancel.")
- Talk with students about the game play strategies they used. Ask, "What types of decisions did you have to make about the family members while playing the game and trying to achieve your objective? What strategies did you use? For example, did you combine work and school, or did you send everyone to work? Which worked? Which did not?" If students need additional support, you may want to show the Budgets Movie and discuss some strategies for managing the family's finances in the game.
- Give students another 10-15 minutes to resume the game and apply the new understandings they gained during the discussion.
- Bring the class back to a whole group discussion once more. Discuss the correlation between the choices made, their respective outcomes, and the constraints faced within the game. Talk about how the students’ own lives and situations compare and contrast with those of the family members in the game. Why would parents choose to devote so much effort to sending their children to school? How many students were able to keep the children in school? What obstacles did they face in trying to keep them in school? How do the situations and options in the game compare with those in your own community? Why might access to education be a challenge in another country? What factors would make it easier for the children in the game to gain access to education? What conditions could be changed and how?
- Challenge students to compose a blog entry responding to some of the questions above, or as a reflection on their personal game playing experience: What was it like playing the game? What was the game about and how would you describe it to a friend? Which primary objective did you select, and why? What types of decisions did you have to make about the family members while playing the game and trying to achieve your objective? What strategies did you use? For example, did you combine work and school, or did you send everyone to work? Which worked? Which did not?
- Encourage students to explore the game some more on their own time, and to read and comment on one others' blog posts in response to the game. If you would like Global Kids to include your students' contributions in their compilation of student action on Ayiti, email the blog link to firstname.lastname@example.org with “Ayiti Action” in the subject line.
- Talk with students about how they would like to take action on some of the issues they explored in the game. Here are some ideas you can suggest. More details about each one are found on the Ayiti website (including the names and contact information for the individuals and organizations listed below).
- Write a letter to your Congressional or Senate Representatives to find out what they are doing to improve access to education for children in Haiti.
- Create a petition, collect signatures, and send them to U.S. government offices or agencies calling for programs that increase access to education for Haitian children.
- Write a letter of inquiry to the Haitian Ambassador to the United States or United Nations to find out about the current status on access to education in Haiti.
- Introduce peers to the game and educate them about the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
- Raise funds to support a local organization in Haiti such as the Maison Fortuné Orphanage in Hinche which is working to provide food, shelter, clothing and education to orphaned Haitian children.
- Educate your peers and members of your community by writing an article on poverty as an obstacle to education in Haiti and submitting it to your school or community newspaper.
Extension Activity:Show students this video about a sixth grade class in New York City that created their own analog (offline/paper) version of the Ayiti game. Challenge students to recreate the game themselves, developing their own cards and rules.
You can also create a Children of Haiti Summit to help students explore the core challenges faced by children in Haiti (including access to education, nutrition, basic healthcare and child mortality) and familiarize students with the UNICEF Child Alert: Haiti Summary Paper. You can find more information about the summit and UNICEF's child alert by visiting the teacher's guide on the Global Lab website.
Be sure to check out all of our science games, health games, social studies games, and math games.