Take a look inside 5 images
Cool School: Where Peace Rules
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.
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.