Great Brook School Teacher Presents Play-Based Learning Research to International Colleagues

For immediate release

Great Brook School teacher Maryanne Cullinan and her colleague, Inspirisles game developer Rich Oxenham from Bath, England. (Courtesy Photo ConVal School District)

PETERBOROUGH – Superintendent Kimberly Rizzo Saunders is pleased to share that Great Brook School Extended Learning Program teacher Maryanne Cullinan had the opportunity to present her new research at a workshop in Sweden.

From October 17-21, Cullinan collaborated with colleagues from around the world and presented the research he is working on as part of the Transformative Play Initiative Seminar at Uppsala University in Gotland, Sweden.

Cullinan, who has taught at ConVal since 2005, pursued her Ph.D. at Lesley University and is focusing her research on role-playing games (RPGs) as a way to maximize educational access. Over the past year, she has collaborated with Rich Oxenham of Bath, England, who founded Hatchling Games and is the creator of the RPG Inspirisles.

Inspirisles is a completely original all-ages tabletop RPG that promotes storytelling, empathy, and deaf awareness with an emphasis on collaboration.

Inspirisles is designed to teach hearing students basic sign language and deaf awareness. Cullinan used the game as part of an elective course for seventh- and eighth-graders at Great Brook. Those students’ experiences served as the theme for Cullinan and Oxenham’s presentation, emphasizing the use of play to build cultural awareness and teach American Sign Language to high school students.

“Teachers must be increasingly creative to meet the needs of students, who will need thinking skills as well as real-world content,” Cullinan said. “Role-playing games are a well-studied pedagogy, even though teachers have seen them work wonders with children. It’s amazing that our small school can be a part of the research and journal articles that help advance the use of RPGs around the world!”

In addition to her work with Inspirisles, Cullinan has collaborated closely with Jennifer Genova, a social studies teacher at Salem Middle School to develop a theoretical matrix aimed at helping teachers choose or create RPGs that maximize social-emotional or academic development. of their students. Their joint work was the subject of a second presentation at last week’s conference, which focused on analyzing RPGs and their use in educational settings.

“I am very proud of Maryanne’s commitment to discovering creative ways to engage students in rigorous academic and cultural competencies,” said Great Brook Principal Kat Foecking. “She is the kind of outside-the-box thinker who drives educational innovation that directly benefits our students.”


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