Product Review of S.S. Grin
S.S. Grin begins by asking the player to create their avatar. Then learners meet several characters in the game called the “Pirants” and “Billy the Squid.” The player is a new recruit on the ship S.S. Grin to protect Pacifico island. Crew members help out the inhabitants of Pacifico by completing tasks. Each of the crew members has their own strengths and interests: friendship, respect, planning and thinking ahead, stop and think, listening, and emotions. Students then learn the secret mission for members of the S.S. Grin, which is to protect special Friendship Stones from being stolen. In addition to the Pirants, there are other villains who specialize in interfering in friendships by demonstrating things like disrespect, being inconsiderate, and not thinking through consequences.
Students will love getting to play this game, and educators would benefit from using it in a variety of ways. Consider presenting this to learners as they work in pairs or small groups so that they can use some of the social skills they’re learning in real time. This could also serve as part of a guidance or wellness program. If you use it during a social studies lesson, you can carry the lesson over to an English language arts essay prompt. Teachers could also ask learners to debrief after playing by writing in a daily journal, reflecting on interesting interactions throughout the game, and connecting those interactions to off-screen ones. And, you can connect the skills presented in the game to digital interaction vs. face-to-face conversations. Ask learners how things like respect and stopping and thinking are helpful online as well as off. Whether educators have their entire class complete this game individually in a computer lab or use it as an extension activity for learners throughout the day, the multiple options are sure to benefit learners and educators alike.
S.S. Grin does a good job of introducing each character’s values and strengths via role playing and storytelling. It loops kids in immediately and helps activate their background knowledge for future activities. The developer does a great job of placing learners directly into several of the vignettes mid-scene. This requires learners to use their knowledge, context clues, and foresight to be able to determine their next move in the game.
It also places value on process over perfection, so learners must rely on real-life resources, regulation strategies, and other pro-social supports to complete their goals. And learners have to pay attention to more than the content of what’s being said. Each interaction in S.S. Grin is layered with elements like tone, inflection, and appropriateness. To extend learning, learners can participate in a close-knit and informative community of pro-social practices and get weekly emails teaching a social-skill of the week. The only downside to this game is that if learners need to log out mid-scene for a logistical reason (e.g., bell ringing), the level may not save until the student completes the vignette. It would be nice if learners could save at any point and pick right back up when they log in again.
Overall User Consensus About the App
The role-playing and story-telling nature of this interactive game will reel learners in.
Curriculum and Instruction
Everything from practicing inference to learning frustration tolerance is built into the fabric of this game. The only downside is that each level takes a while to complete.
Tips, hints, and tutorials are embedded into each vignette and activity. There’s a greater learning community that shares lessons and suggestions for further education.