Category Archives: News

Paiute rancher on horseback

Teaching math, Indigenous and rural history: Free PD

We’re very excited to announce that 7 Generation Games has received a grant from the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary sources program. We will work with educators to create games and lessons teaching Indigenous and rural history using primary sources. Of course, if these lessons included math or science, we would be thrilled. Educators will work with facilitators, Professors Annmaria De Mars, Juliana Taken Alive and Dan Conn in a series of three workshops, two create game designs and lessons using those games.

Games will then be created by 7 Generation Games. Participants receive credit from Sitting Bull College.

Paiute ranch worker, Tex Northrup, riding a horse

Image is Tex Northrup, a Paiute rancher, from Library of Congress collection

The first cohort will give priority to teachers from North and South Dakota and kicks off with an online meeting August 2nd.

For more information, and to apply, see the post Co-designing Games to Teach with Primary Sources from Indigenous and Rural History or just

Go the the application form to sign up.

Minnesota Ag in the Classroom: Hidden Gems

At 7 Generation Games, we always like sharing resources that we love. This week we’d like to share a site we love, which is the Minnesota Agriculture in the Classroom site.

At first glance, it may not appear there is much here, but appearances are deceiving.

Virtual Field Trips Plus

Take the virtual field trips, for example. When we last checked the site there were 30 videos. You can sign up for a live virtual field trip during the school year or view the videos on YouTube afterward. Most of the videos have Curriculum Connections, like this one on a Mushroom Farm.

Resources with the Mushroom Farm video include:

  • Parts of a mushroom worksheet
  • Mushroom life cycle worksheet
  • An experiment growing mold that uses nothing more than a piece of bread and a Ziploc bag
  • Writing assignments at both the upper elementary and middle school level

Agriculture and Language Arts

Maybe every state has this? If you know, let me know because after reading this I am now motivated to visit every state’s Ag in the Classroom site.

Agriculture Terms Glossary – from aquatic to turf, it’s all here. One of my favorite creative writing activities as a student was when teachers would give us a dozen or so words that had to be included in a story or essay we wrote. This glossary can be used in that same way for a writing prompt.

Minnesota Ag Mag

There are SIX different magazines available, for grades K, 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5-6. Minnesota teachers can order the print version for free. Anyone can access the magazine online.

Lessons and Recipes

Under the MN Harvest of the Month program section, you can find many K-12 lessons and recipes to use in the classroom.

The MN Ag in Classroom site provides many different resources and support to educators and that’s why it’s one of the sites we love.

Google Classroom

We know that many teachers turned to Google Classroom while in hybrid or distance learning during the pandemic. However, many teachers still continue to use Google Classroom in schools across the nation today. If you’re curious about Google Classroom, below you will find a video and information on some of the basics to help you get started.

Google Classroom – The Basics (Video)

Google Classroom: The Basics

Getting a Google Classroom

In order to have a Google Classroom, create a Google Account or log in to an existing account.

Sign in to your Google Account or create a new one.

Once you have created or logged into your Google Account, use the Google Apps Menu (located in the top right corner of your browser) to open Google Classroom.

Google Apps Menu
Google Classroom

Google Classroom

Google Classroom is where teachers can create virtual classrooms, add students, create assignments (graded and ungraded), and so much more.

Your stream (dashboard) is where you can see the name of the class, announcements, and assignments.

Your Google Classroom Stream

Adding a Classroom

Click the + sign when in Google Classroom to Join or Add a Classroom. Then add the classroom details and click the Create button.

Create a Classroom
Enter the Classroom Details

Your New Google Classroom

After you have created your class, it should appear on your Google Classroom list of classes.

Your Newly Created Google Classroom

Click on your class and you’ll be taken to that class’ stream (dashboard).

Your Class Stream – name of class, assignments, and announcements.

Adding Students

Under the appropriate class, add students by clicking on the People tab and then clicking on the add person button. Type in the email addresses of your students and invite them or copy the link to your classroom in order to share.

Copy the classroom link to share or type in student emails and invite.

Adding Classwork

Click on the Classwork tab under your class and the “+ Create” button to add classwork. There are different types of classwork that you can create. Click on assignment, quiz assignment, question, or other material to create that type of classwork.

Classwork Tab – Create Assignment
Assignment Types

Add the details of the classwork – title, instructions, class, points, due date, rubric, and attach any documents from your class drive. You will also have the option to have a copy of the document made for each student so that your original document remains unedited. You can view the class drive folder from the Classwork tab.

Enter Assignment Details

Once you are done adding the classwork, you have the option to assign the classwork, schedule the classwork to be assigned at a later date, or save the classwork as a draft.

Student Grades

You can access student grades under the Grades tab when in your class.

The Grades Tab

You can also set whether your students are able to view their overall grade. Click on the gear icon in the top right corner to go to Class Settings. Scroll down to grading and click the switch for “Show overall grade to students.”

Class Settings
Grading Settings for Your Class

Thinking of teachers (& students): Making Camp Navajo Out of Beta

When we created the beta version of Making Camp Navajo, we were in the middle of a pandemic. Schools wanted more advanced content and we had a game designer and community manager from the Navajo Nation who was able to connect us with some additional cultural experts, so it was a natural next game for us to do.

Like any beta version, it was okay. All of the math instructional content was correct, we had a unit of lessons on ratio and proportion that included playing the game. Still, like any beta version, there were aspects that could be better. We’ve spent lots of time in classrooms ourselves, and we understand that when students can’t work independently, it’s frustrating for them and takes time away from the teacher.

Changes to Make Students’ (and, hence, Teachers’) Lives Easier

TL; DR – we made it a lot less likely that students would need to call over the teacher for help.

  1. Any equivalent ratio is now scored correct. and extra spaces are ignored. The blue corn mush math problems were too easy to get wrong. For one of the problems, if a student answered 2:10 instead of 1:5, it was scored incorrect. Those are equivalent. Also, if a student entered spaces like 1 : 5 it was scored wrong. Why would someone enter it like that? As with many things people do, I have no idea, but I do know it ends with the student calling over the teacher and asking why their answer is wrong.
  2. The default screen size now fits on the smallest Chromebooks. The original screen size was a little bigger than the smallest Chromebooks, which meant the next arrow could be off the screen and the student wouldn’t see it. This resulted in them calling the teacher over who either told the student to scroll down or to zoom out and view the game at 90%.
Smiling African American female teacher standing near whiteboard and looking at schoolgirl raising hand
Photo by Katerina Holmes on Pexels.com
  1. We added LOADS of hints. Every page now has a header with a ? in a button the top right. Clicking on that button will give you a hint on how to solve the problem, whether it is instructions to click the colored “brush” on the right and then click the square on the “rug”, an equation to use to solve a problem for milk replacer ratio or to click the corn borers to squash them.
  2. The question applying the ratio of water to milk replacer has a random number of lambs, so it isn’t always the same problem.
  3. A hundred little changes that add up – whether it was the title not quite centered, adding wiggly corn borers to pages where these pests are discussed or an extra few pixels of padding around the score box, players don’t notice these changes individually, but they come together to make a game look more professional, and more like something students want to play.

You can learn more about Making Camp Navajo here – or just go here to play the game.

No code, no problem: 7 Gen Blocks EDU

Creating opportunities through breaking down barriers in educational game development

We started 7 Generation Games because we believed kids deserved better. We built better learning games and got better results: better academic outcomes, better engagement and better representation (both games and classroom curriculum). Over time, our mission has stayed the same, but the way we’re approaching that has evolved, or – to use a gaming term – leveled up.

A selection of the games we’ve made.

As of this blog, we’ve made 34 games – with five more in the works – collaborating with more than two dozen partners (from tribal nations to nonprofits to publishers), creating games for students who too many other game companies fail to serve, from English-language learners to rural communities to Indigenous youth. By the end of the year, we expect that total number of games to be at or approaching 50. In doing so, we’ve served hundreds of thousands of kids.

That’s a lot of apps and a lot of kids. To put that in perspective, it’s the equivalent of developing two tablet screens’ worth of games and serving three to four NFL stadiums’ worth of kids.

In the process, we built our own educational game development platform to streamline production and keep down costs.

But even then, we knew that we alone could not create games reflective of every community. Being able to create more games is important because no single game can effectively address educational outcomes across diverse populations. As much as people want to claim that their learning app or tool or software is the magic solution to all struggles for all students in education, there is no universal fix.

Last fall, we rolled out a low-code version of that platform for organizations to try to make educational game development more accessible. We adapted our platform to enable publishers, non-profits, tribes to create educational games using blocks of code that could be edited and virtually snapped together, reducing obstacles to game development by making it possible for entry-level programmers to create quality games.

7 Gen Blocks Low-Code Platform

However, we realized that to truly be accessible we needed to take our work a step further. We needed to make it possible for anyone who wanted to create educational games regardless of programming ability to be able to do so.

7 Gen Blocks EDU is that tool.

It’s a no-code version of our 7 Gen Blocks platform that integrates the best practices we’ve learned (around gaming and digital instruction), enabling educational content to be turned into games, customizable to different cultures, languages and student realities, without needing to code.

7 Gen Blocks EDU No-Code Tool

By building an easy-to-use development platform that doesn’t require coding skills, we’re not simply creating games that reflect communities, we’re empowering communities to control their own narratives and create their own games. 

That representation and reflection matters. We at 7 Generation Games know it because we have lived it.

One of the things that I am most proud of when I look back at what we’ve built at 7 Generation Games is not the games we’ve created (although those are awesome), but the opportunities – and not just for the students who play them.

I look at the team we currently have. I think about the number of talented young professionals we’ve been able to help launch their careers as their first job or internship and proudly watch them go on to organizations from NASA’s JPL to Unity to LinkedIn. Throughout the course of our company history, our staff has always been overwhelming (70-80 percent) Black, Indigenous or Latino. More often than not, our team members have been first-generation college students and/or English-language learners. So when we talk about creating for historically marginalized communities, we’re not building for “those” communities, we are building for OUR communities.

Some of our amazing team, past and present

We are testaments to the transformative impact STEM education has had on our lives, and it shapes the work we do.

I believe it is our responsibility not merely to leave the ladder down for the next generation, but to build them stairs.

I’m under no illusions that 7 Gen Blocks EDU is that full staircase, but I do believe it’s another step in making that happen.

7 Gen Blocks EDU is currently in the MVP stage (that’s the technical terms for a functional, but not polished draft form). We expect to move it into beta this summer and hope to have public-facing version of the platform available by the end of this year. 

7 Gen Blocks : Coding as Arithmetic is to Algebra

Wow! So I just found out the Miller’s Analogies Test was discontinued. If you don’t know, it was at one time used for admission to graduate school and societies like Mensa where people sit around and feel smug about their IQ scores. It has questions like :

Intelligent : dunce :: _____ : clown
Oklahoma : Nebraska :: Oregon : _____

In remembrance, I thought I’d start this blog with an analogy. I’m often asked to speak to middle school students during the week that Los Angeles Unified School District has them studying careers. I get it, the district is 74% Latino/ Hispanic and we are all concerned about students’ achievement in STEM so what better person to bring in than a Latina with a Ph.D. specializing in Applied Statistics who co-founded a software company.

One day, a student raised his hand and asked me:

“They say we’re going to be learning algebra next year. I keep hearing about algebra but I don’t know what that is. How is that different from the math we have been learning up until now?”

Very intelligent student in Los Angeles

I said, “The math you’ve been learning until now lets you add a single problem. If you learn 3 x 9 = 27 then you know how to solve that one problem. You’ll learn that division is multiplication in reverse, so you can check your answer by 27 ÷ 3 = 9. In algebra, you will learn how to solve TYPES of problems.

Let’s say that I’m buying two different things, maybe corn tortillas and flour tortillas, because what weirdo doesn’t like tortillas? If they cost the same, that’s one type of problem and I can represent it like this – p*(f + c) – where p = the price of a pack of tortillas, f = the number of packs of flour tortillas I want to buy and c = the number of packs of corn tortillas. Here is the cool thing – ANY TIME you have two different things that have the same price, you can solve the problem like that.

Now, let’s say you were looking at buying queso (cheese) and tortillas, because everyone likes quesadillas, right? Now, a pound of cheese doesn’t cost the same as a pack of tortillas. Let’s say I’m buying one pound of Cacique cheese for $4 a pound and I can make 20 quesadillas with that and tortillas cost $3 and come 10 to a pack.

So, the equation is 4(1) + 3(20/10) . Here is the coolest thing – any time you have a problem where you have two things with different prices and you need different amounts, and one of the things is sold in a group or pack, you can use this equation to solve that problem.”

Did I use making tortillas to explain algebra? Yes, yes, I did. As my lovely daughter, Ronda, says, Don’t tell me how to live my life.

Of course, shortly after she said that, she ended up in the ring at Lucha Libre and one of my homies from back in the day was ready to fight security, but that’s a story from another day.

Anyway, my point, and I do have one, is that 7 Gen Blocks, the new low-code and no-code game builders we are working on is very much like that.

How exactly is 7 Gen Blocks: Coding like Arithmetic : Algebra ?

Oh, I am so glad you asked that! Why, it’s just like when I would be giving those presentations for a federal agency who will remain nameless that gave us 10 minutes to present and 5 minutes for questions when I planted friends in the audience who asked questions to elicit information I didn’t have time to get to in my presentation. Oh, wait, that never happened. That was a false rumor spread by my enemies, if I had any enemies, which I don’t, of course.

Anyway, to answer your question … an educational game may have a question like the one below, which was in our beta version of Making Camp Navajo. We had a specific question asking the ratio of milk replacer to water when bottle feeding lambs. It will also have a specific hint that pops up when you click the question mark at the top of the screen.

When we make it into a block, not only can we insert a variety of numbers for the problem, say, any number between 2 and 20, but we can also make it possible for you to change the text, so instead of water to milk replacer to feed lambs, it can be water to cornmeal to make blue corn mush, or pounds of cheese to packages of tortillas. At the same time, the hint will be changed automatically, so, instead of showing “2/5 = 4/x Enter the value for x”, it will show the numbers you used in your problem.

So, we have moved from a specific problem in a game to a sort of “equation” where you plug in the values for problem text, numbers (or a range of numbers) and hint, and the new screens are automatically created for you. If you want an image, like my lovely carton of milk replacer, you can give the link to any image, too.

So, there you go 7 Gen Blocks: Coding :: Algebra: Arithmetic

Stay tuned for other major improvements to Making Camp Navajo. The new update will be out within a week and I guarantee you’ll find a lot to like.

baking, cake fail

Warm-up Games and a Math-in-Music Lesson

Over the past few years, we have interviewed hundreds of teachers, principals, after-school staff and other experts in education – 100% cited maintaining student attention as a challenge. Across the classes we observed and teachers we interviewed, from Title I schools, from 15-50% of students were not turning in their work. 

To help catch student attention, either at the beginning of a lesson, or to apply a concept as attention starts to wane, we’re building a series of “Warm-up Games” that can be played on a Chromebook.

Our first five warm-up games all take less than 10 minutes, from beginning to end. These include games in Spanish and English, cross-curricular games with math and music or science and a game to teach history and music vocabulary.

Bake-a-palooza – Dividing unit fractions by integer – PLAY GAME

Bake-a-palooza Español – Spanish version of Bake-a-palooza – PLAY GAME

Minnesota Turtles – Concepts of indigenous and endangered species and converting fractions to decimals. – PLAY GAME

All That Math Jazz – Jazz history and using ratios. – PLAY GAME

All That Jazz Music – Jazz history and music vocabulary – PLAY GAME

Wondering How You’d Use These Games?

Check out one option in the All that Math Jazz lesson by Isabel Bozada-Jones of Ohio. Like Isabel, we’ve often found that students are more interested in math when they can see its application to other subjects.

Our game catalog is growing – and still free

Like us, you’ve probably seen a lot of grant-funded programs disappear once the grant ended. We’re proud to say that, through a combination of public and private funding, we’ve gone from 10 Chromebook games at the end of the Growing Math project to 17 today. You can find the list, math and other content taught and links to play here

Within the next few months, we’ll have at least two more warm-up games and two longer games released, one of which is bilingual in Spanish and English. 

Thanks to the SciTech Minnesota program, we’ve been able to add two software developer interns. Thanks to the Center for Economic Inclusion, we’ve been able to hire a Business Development Specialist, freeing up AnnMaria’s time to focus on software development. What this means for you is that a couple of the games that have been in beta will have their final (fingers-crossed) bug-free release, and every game in our catalog will be receiving an update over the next several months.

We Love to Hear from You

As always, we are happy to hear feedback on our games, bugs (gasp), suggested enhancements, lesson ideas or just good jokes.

You can follow us on Instagram @7gengames , find us on LinkedIn or Facebook.

NIEA is Coming Up!

It’s that time of the year. No, not spooky season, although, we do like that time of the year as well. One of our favorite events that we like attending, and have attended in the past, is coming up. Next week is the 54th Annual NIEA Convention & Trade Show! This year’s NIEA Convention & Trade Show will be held at the Convention Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico from October 18-21, 2023. 7 Generation Games will be there! Be sure to catch AnnMaria at NIEA this year at the convention and then for her presentation on October 21st. – details below. We hope to see you in Albuquerque!

AnnMaria’s Presentation Details:
“Teaching Indigenous languages through educational game design”
Saturday, October 21, 2023
9:00 – 10:15 AM (Workshop Session J)

What I discovered on the Bozeman Trail

I’m the first to admit that my history education has been lacking, with my last history course being in the eighth grade. Since I skipped a couple years of school and entered college at 16, I didn’t even take the mandatory U.S. history course that everyone is supposed to have in high school.

All my life, I have been a “math person”. I’ve taught math from middle school through doctoral programs. What history I learned was mostly with working with our cultural consultants on games like Making Camp Lakota, Making Camp Dakota, Making Camp Navajo or Forgotten Trail.

As a developer on Bozeman Trail, a game designed to teach middle school history, I was, for the first time, exposed to some new perspectives.

sunset on Standing Rock

From an Indigenous perspective, history can pretty much be summed up as,

“We were living here and these people came in with guns, took our land, forced us on these reservations and sent our kids to boarding school.”

When I thought about it at all, which was admittedly, not often, my opinion was, wow, those colonists were really awful people.

People moved out west for “a better life.” I never asked, “Better than what?”

In eighth grade, back in the 20th century, I learned about railroad barons and the Homestead Act. People moved out west for “a better life.” I never asked, “Better than what?” and the question never came up.

Playing through the Bozeman Trail, I learned about the Irish immigrants who built the railroad. They didn’t come out west because they wanted to steal Lakota lands. They came because it beat starving back home. Does that make it right? No, but it is certainly a different perspective that I had never considered.

Chinese immigrants that built the railroad, too, had even worse conditions than the Irish. The game does not have a lot of the Chinese immigrant experience – it’s just one game, after all – but it had enough to make me want to learn more.

Life was hard for the Shoshone, Arapaho, Lakota and everyone else

If you were a child, a woman or a freed slave, you had even fewer opportunities and harsher conditions than the men working on the railroad. Children didn’t ride in wagons, unless they were very young. They walked. Deaths from disease and accidents were rampant. If your child got sick and died, you just went on. What else could you do?

Bozeman Trail gives an unvarnished look at the way the U.S. government broke treaties with the tribes. There is some background on the Panic of 1873. People lost all their savings. Banks were collapsing. There were no jobs. If you were lucky enough to have a job in the army and didn’t want to go fight the Indigenous people, you’d be thrown in the stockade.

Did that make it okay to go in and steal the gold from the Black Hills almost as soon as the ink was dry on the treaty that says the Great Sioux Nation are the owners of the Black Hills, forever? Did any of this justify moving the Shoshone, Arapaho and Lakota people to smaller and smaller parcels of land and forcing them at gunpoint to comply? No, of course not.

Personally, Bozeman Trail Reminded Me of Immigrants Today

When I see the news on immigrants getting off buses in New York City or Los Angeles from Texas, I don’t see them as people coming here to steal my job. I understand that it takes a lot for someone to pack up and leave everything they know.

Before Bozeman Trail, I’d assumed that the American west was settled by adventurers, young men who came out to make their fortune. I’m sure there was some of that. The perspective from the Bozeman Trail game, though, was many people were just trying to survive or thrive and they had found that impossible where they were.