Review by Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Education | Updated October 2016

Cool School: Where Peace Rules

Free simulator makes learning to resolve classroom conflicts fun

Subjects & skills
Subjects
  • Health & Wellness

Skills
  • Communication & Collaboration
  • Character & SEL
  • Critical Thinking
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
K–3
Common Sense says
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Teachers say (6 Reviews)
Flagged for privacy concerns
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Indicates that the service meets the minimum criteria and more research should be completed prior to use.

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Not Recommended

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5 images

Pros: Diverse characters show the effects of good and bad choices in animated videos of realistic situations.

Cons: The multiple-choice format doesn't leave room for alternative solutions.

Bottom Line: Cool School: Where Peace Rules does a great job of modeling how to resolve common conflicts.

Cool School: Where Peace Rules is a great way to teach empathy and may be more effective than the occasional lecture that might either confuse kids or make them feel singled out. Kids learn conflict-resolution skills by doing them. For example, one of the popular tools in the game is asking another character, "How would you feel if someone did that to you?" Continue the conversation by having whole-class or small-group discussions about the scenarios kids see in the games. Kids can role-play, explore multiple possible solutions, discuss the consequences of different responses, and so on.

It's a nonlinear learning tool, so kids progress randomly. Up to six kids can save their progress in individual accounts, so long as they always access the site on the same device; teachers can track progress by looking at how many letters kids have collected. 

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Cool School: Where Peace Rules is a free online game that teaches kids age 4 to 8 how to resolve conflict at school. Anyone can access the free website and start a game. An optional page asks for a user's age and gender for research purposes, and the introductory section has both visual and audio instructions.

Players click on a map of the school and then select one of 10 buildings. An animated video presents one of 52 potential conflicts in which students argue over a commonplace issue. The videos introduce realistic situations, such as kids pushing in line. Players hear both sides of the story, then select one of four choices of how a character should respond. Students then watch a video to see the consequences of their choice. If the conflict is not resolved, the player is asked to try again until the right answer is selected. If the conflict is resolved, the player receives verbal reinforcement of the lesson, and a letter appears in the main menu when they return. Players can continue until they earn all 26 letters and print a certificate, or they can save the game and play later.

This interactive method is incredibly powerful. The characters are animated objects such as books or chalk with diverse names and accents, so everyone can relate. Using language that's just right for kids, the characters translate abstract ideas such as "inclusion" into real-world situations, such as inviting someone to join a team on the playground or a table in the cafeteria. Kids are actively engaged in learning through trial and error, just like in real life.

Of course, the answers to these realistic scenarios are not clear-cut. Sometimes it's good to stand up for a friend in an argument. But if a kid is in physical danger, for example, it's better to walk away or get an adult. Each scenario has only one "right" answer, making it difficult to acknowledge that sometimes there can be more than one way to resolve a conflict. Still, the nuanced range of scenarios helps kids develop an impressive toolkit of conflict-resolution techniques.

 

Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Cool School: Where Peace Rules calls players "friends" and asks for their help in solving conflicts. Kids are empowered to choose their locations and their solutions, and they're rewarded for making good choices. 

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

The coolest thing about this game is that players actively participate in their own learning and see the direct results of their choices. The videos teach kids how to apply conflict-resolution skills to their own lives.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

The thorough introduction has verbal and written instructions and pictures, and help is available throughout. Kids can track their progress in their rewards book.


Teacher Reviews

(See all 6 reviews) (6 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Linda G. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
North Allegheny School District
Pittsburgh, PA
Very good resource on social skills and conflict resolution

Cool School Game is a free, web-based game that serves as resource, when working with young students (K-2) on conflict resolution strategies and anti-bullying initiatives. The players voluntarily may enter age and gender information, which is used to improve future versions of the game (not saving any personal data).

Cool School Game is not accompanied by any additional resources or lesson plans at this time. However, as stated on the teacher page, the developer is interested in working with educators "in the utmost altruistic and cost-free manner". Interested teachers are invited to contact them.

The interface is engaging and colorful, with the premise of a fantasy school where the students are classroom objects come alive. Players move throughout the school, where scenarios are specific to the problems that students are likely to encounter there. One of the game's greatest strengths is that these situations are so general, common and typical in K-2. No matter what anti-bullying / conflict-resolution program is used (Second Step, Responsive Classroom, Olweus, etc), Cool School Game will be a good fit.

Throughout game play, students are provided with phrases and responses to situations. The characters present diversity in race and gender, but are are voiced by adults imitating children. Unfortunately, the phrases used are sometimes rather trite.

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