Because Details Matter: 100 little tweaks and not swearing at students


What do grammar fixes in our games and not swearing at your students have in common? Now, you, Ms. or Mr. 5th Grade Teacher, have probably never even considered telling Emma or Devon or D’emery that you are going to skin them alive and send the hides home to their mothers. If you knew that Maria had to implement a frequently-violated “no swearing on company blog” policy and a “maximum one f-word per podcast” policy , you might be surprised to find that I, too, have never sworn at my students despite starting my career in education teaching eighth grade math at a special school for emotionally disturbed students .

Our school counselor laughed at me one day, saying ,

“I can’t get over how I come in your classroom and your students say, “F### you, Bill, you’re a f###ing ugly m##### !”  Then,  you say in that soft voice, “Now, Bob, that’s really not an appropriate greeting for Bill.” Try saying, “ Good morning. How is your day going ?”

Some women knit to relax. I clean up code. Over the past two days, I have made 100 little tweaks to Making Camp Bilingual. Some of these were grammatical or spelling errors. The inimitable Maria Paz went through the whole game and found numerous places where we (and by ‘we’ I mean someone who was not me) had left off the upside-down question mark, called “signo de apertura de interrogación” in Spanish and the upside-down exclamation point.

Making Camp Bilingual intro in Spanish
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If these have a name in English other than upside-down question mark / exclamation point, I don’t know what it is. If you do, let me know.

Other changes were literal translations from English that don’t sound right in Spanish. For example, we might say “What is 7 x 8?”

In Chile, you would only say “How much is 7 x 8?” (Cuándo es 7 x 8?) and don’t forget the accent on the a.

Along with my hundred other tasks over the next week, I’m going to make these same kind of changes for Aztech:The Story Begins and Making Camp Premium.

words activities from Making Camp Premium
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If you haven’t guessed, what these two things have in common is role modeling. My students already knew a lot of creative ways to tell someone how to f### off, but they weren’t too familiar with the words “appropriate” or “greeting” , or the practice of ignoring insults and going on with your day.

For our bilingual games, it’s certain that the players will be learning at least one of the languages (this is true for some users of the English-only games as well). They’ll often be learning for the first time about division with remainders or solving time-rate-distance problems .

When students are using us as their model, we had better be a good one. That’s why we hire math, history and English teachers, in the US and Chile as consultants and it’s why, right after I finish this cash flow analysis, I’m heading back to make Making Camp Premium and Aztech as error free as it’s humanly possible to get them.

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