Why Did I Start Game Crazy Academy?

Posted by in Blended Learning

Thank you for stopping by the Game Crazy Academy!

Back in July of 2012, my wife and I decided to start up a business that would offer new and unique party entertainment like a video game bus, portable laser tag and more. We would bring it to people’s doorstep and our staff would stay and run the party to keep everyone entertained. Game Crazy was born. A year later, we started working with schools in metro Detroit and started offering after-school classes in robotics, video game design and much more. As we taught more and more of these classes, parents started asking us if we had a center where kids could come to in order to continue their learning once the after-school program came to an end.

As I work with more and more children in schools, I can’t help but notice that a lot of children struggle with school work, especially reading, writing and Math. I have a tremendous amount of respect for teachers. They work so hard to educate the youth of tomorrow. But I also feel like the education system needs a few changes to make it more relevant to kids today and to help teachers be more efficient. I also feel like we need to infuse each and every class with fun and creativity. It’s not rocket science – kids learn best when they do. I saw that first hand as I taught kids about robotics and designing their own video games. If you can make education fun, then kids learn naturally and develop higher order learning (critical thinking) skills rather than try and memorize and regurgitate answers.

I am very passionate about developing critical thinking in the future generation. So I thought to myself, why not open up a club for kids to learn English and Math, but do it in a fun, interactive and engaging way so that kids actually love being in class, love the learning experience and learn to think for themselves? That is why Game Crazy Academy was born.

Is The Academy a School?

No. The Academy is a club that meets twice a week for an hour and half each session. We are not a school. We tutor kids 8+ years old in Common Core Standard Math & English, Entrepreneurship and Computer Science.

Where Are You Located?

When we open in the fall of 2014, we will start offering classes out of the Jewish Community Center of West Bloomfield. You are welcome to sign up for news updates. We will notify you when we open. Don’t forget, you can send your child to our academy FREE for 30 days when we open to try us out risk free!

Why Open This Academy?

Every child is special. I truly believe that. I also believe that every child is different. They each learn at a different pace. However, that is not how they are taught in school. Teachers do their best to use their limited time to bring out the best in every child but the results show that it’s not working. A few quick facts:

7000 kids are dropping out of school every day all over America.

One-third of all college students require remediation.

More than half of all college students who require remediation do not obtain a bachelor’s degree.

Very little has changed in classrooms in over a century. Sure, we have more technology in classrooms today, but many schools are not leveraging technology to the best possible extent to actually personalize the education experience for the child. Kids might use a laptop or learn on the smart board, but for the most part, kids are still sitting in a classroom and listening to the teacher speak. If a child already grasps the concept being taught, they are not challenged and get bored. If the teacher moves on to the next topic while a child has not fully grasped the concept, it creates problems for the child down the road.

In addition, kids in elementary and middle school are not taught about entrepreneurship, money management or computer science – skills which open up your mind to unlimited possibilities, make you less risk averse and arm you with skills that will be in demand for years to come. Why is it that kids are not taught these skills? What if our academy taught kids much needed Math and English skills, but also taught them entrepreneurship and Computer Science from an early age? But we can’t follow a typical school classroom model. We need to change the educational experience for kids.

What Is The Solution?

Instead of having all kids in a classroom learn at the same pace, what if we did something innovative…maybe even disruptive? What if we did not teach kids by age group? What if we did away with that concept and instead taught kids purely on the basis of their ability to grasp and master each concept? What if we were able to customize each class to suit the strengths and weaknesses of each child? What if kids had a say in what they learned, and did it at their own pace? What if we leveraged on-line learning, 1:1 tutoring and group sessions to teach kids while freeing up teachers to provide students with more focused attention? What if we taught kids real life skills through hands-on exercises in starting up their own business, directing a movie using LEGO, landing a robot to carry out an autonomous mission on Mars or learn how to program in Minecraft, a game that they absolutely love to play?

How The Academy Works

The Academy is centered around a core theme – how do we motivate kids to learn?

Everything that we do is centered around this core theme of motivation. The first thing that we do in our club is change up the structure of our classroom. Our club has tables for individual learning. We have a section for group learning and hands-on work. We also have a section for 1:1 learning and for taking tests.

Game Crazy Academy Blended Learning Classroom Layout

The next important thing that we focus on is personalizing the learning experience for every child. We start off by having a child take a standardized test to create a baseline. Based on the results of the test, every child is provided Tier 1 support where our Guides (teachers) create a personalized playlist for each child that meet the Common Core Standards. Think of a playlist as a set of educational resources. Just like your iPod has a music playlist, our software allows each child to learn from their own personalized playlist. The playlist contains a mix of online videos, cartoon animations, video games, websites and audio recordings. Kids can choose which playlist items they want to use to learn a specific concept. They leverage this customized playlist to learn at their own pace. The software tracks their progress and shows our Guides specific areas where kids are struggling.

If certain kids fall behind, they are given Tier 2 support – which might entail pulling them out in to smaller groups so that our Guides can conduct group tutoring sessions. If a child is really struggling, our Guides can provide Tier 3 support in the form of 1:1 tutoring. In addition, kids that have mastered the concept can volunteer to teach kids who are struggling with that concept. Younger kids and older kids, all in the same room, studying at their own level, using technology to personalize their education to make it fun and interesting and helping each other out when needed. Now that’s interesting.

In addition to Math and English, our Guides will also teach kids about entrepreneurship – from coming up with a business idea to rapid prototyping, testing, launching, hiring, cash flow, operations, sales and marketing. But we will do this in a fun way using quests and project based learning. We will teach kids to fail early and fail often. Why? Because that is how the real world works. The sooner that kids grasp that concept, the better equipped they are to not let failure discourage them from realizing their true calling.

Computer programming is a highly desirable skill and at the Game Crazy Academy, we start teaching kids computer programming as early as elementary school. Starting with simple drag and drop programming to control simple robots to creating more complex programs to autonomously control robots or building a virtual bank in Minecraft that uses LUA programming to accept deposits, withdrawals, allow password protected entry to safety deposit rooms and much more, kids will be immersed in the world of Computer Science in a fun and engaging way.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, our Guides. Trusting students to take charge of their own learning is core to our philosophy at our club. That is not to say that our teachers should let kids do whatever they want. Some degree of supervision is necessary. We understand that. However, we don’t want teachers to teach at our club. We want them to guide every child to become an independent learner. That is why our teachers are called Guides. They are there to step in when it is necessary, but only when it is necessary. Most times, they will not solve problems for kids. They will not give you a hint. They will guide kids to think, to collaborate and to find the answer for themselves.

All of this, along with periodic testing and detailed reporting will provide the child, their parents and the Guides will a complete view of the child’s progress through the Common Core standards…and it will create an atmosphere where kids can’t wait to come and learn.

That is my vision for Game Crazy Academy. To learn more about the Game Crazy Academy, please visit our website at www.gamecrazyacademy.com where you can sign up for a FREE 30 day trial of our classes.

Suman Chaudhuri
Chief Happiness Officer
Game Crazy