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  • Writer's pictureZoe Branigan-Pipe

Enriching Minds Through "Dixit": A Journey in Creative and Critical Thinking - By Zoe Branigan-Pipe


Dixit: a simple name for a game that unfolds layers of imagination, language, and interpretation. This fantasy association game is more than just entertainment; it's a tool for enriching minds, fostering conversation, and unlocking the beauty of abstract thinking.



The Essence of Dixit

At its core, Dixit is a game of large playing cards, each adorned with fantastical, story-telling images that are detailed and open-ended. These images are not just pictures; they are gateways to worlds of interpretation, metaphors, and symbols. Players, both children and adults, are drawn into reading these cards, deciphering their meanings, and exploring the endless possibilities of their imagination.

Personal Experience: A Family Affair

In my home, Dixit is a beloved activity. My family, spanning ages from 16 to adults, finds joy in the shared experience of interpreting these vivid images. The game becomes particularly special with our ELL student, who uses it as a bridge to learn and express new vocabulary, assisted by a translator to share his unique perspectives.

Dixit in Education: Beyond Just a Game

As an educator, Dixit transforms into a powerful tool. In my classroom, it serves as a guided language lesson, where we delve into higher-order thinking skills, comprehension, and abstract thinking. The pictures become catalysts for discussions on story elements, perspectives, and symbolism, aligning with the Ontario curriculum's emphasis on advanced language skills.

Key Learning Areas with Dixit:

  • Comprehension & Abstract Thinking: Understanding the content and abstract associations of the pictures.

  • Expressive Language & Conversation: Players articulate their choices and reasoning during gameplay.

  • Interpersonal and Social Skills: Enhancing communication and social interactions.

  • Critical and Creative Thinking: Engaging in imaginative and analytical thought processes.

  • Communicating and Conveying Meaning: Using varied forms to express ideas.

  • Transfer of Knowledge: Applying concepts and strategies to new contexts.

  • Real, Purposeful Talk: Engaging in meaningful conversation.

  • Analyzing Texts and Images: Evaluating communication effectiveness.

  • Language Proficiency: Utilizing a wide vocabulary range, including non-discriminatory language.

  • Interpretation Skills: Developing interpretations of complex texts and images.

  • Elements of Style: Identifying metaphors, symbolism, and their roles in communication.

  • Expressive Writing: Using vivid language and innovative expressions.

Resources for Incorporating Dixit

Several resources offer insights on integrating Dixit into educational settings:

Dixit is more than a game; it's a journey through the realms of creative and critical thinking, language development, and interpersonal skills. It's a testament to how play can be both fun and intellectually enriching, making it a valuable tool for families and educators alike.


Sample Lesson Plan: Exploring Emotions and Perspectives Through Dixit


This lesson plan utilizes the game Dixit to explore emotions, experiences, and actions, encouraging students to express and understand different perspectives. Suitable for a small group of 5-6 students, this activity can be adapted for various age groups and learning levels.


Objectives

  • Enhance vocabulary related to emotions, experiences, and actions.

  • Develop empathy and understanding of diverse perspectives.

  • Foster creative thinking and expression through imagery.


Materials

  • Dixit game cards.

  • Emotional Wheel or vocabulary prompts (including nouns, verbs, adjectives).

  • Whiteboard and markers.

  • Voting tokens or small objects for voting.

Procedure

  1. Introduction

  • Introduce the Emotional Wheel or the chosen vocabulary prompts.

  • Briefly explain the modified rules of Dixit for this activity.

  1. Setup

  • Distribute several Dixit cards to each student.

  • Place the Emotional Wheel or vocabulary prompts where all students can see them.

  1. Gameplay (30 minutes):

  • Key Player's Turn:

  • One student (the key player) silently chooses a card from their hand and selects a word from the Emotional Wheel or vocabulary prompts that best represents their card.

  • The teacher writes this word on the board without revealing the key player's card.

  • Other Players' Turn:

  • The other students select a card from their hand that they feel best matches the word.

  • These cards are submitted anonymously to the teacher, who then displays them.

  • Discussion and Voting:

  • Briefly discuss the displayed cards, encouraging students to express why they chose a specific card for the word.

  • Students vote on which card they believe belongs to the key player.

  • Reveal and Reflect:

  • The key player reveals their card.

  • Discuss how different cards reflect varying interpretations of the same word, emphasizing diverse perspectives.

  1. Reflection and Discussion

  • Encourage students to share their thoughts on the activity.

  • Discuss how our backgrounds, experiences, and interests influence our perception of words and images.

  • Highlight the importance of respecting diverse viewpoints and interpretations.

Variations

  • For younger students, use a preset list of simpler vocabulary words.

  • For older students, allow them to choose their own words based on a specific theme or concept.


This lesson, through Dixit, provides a unique and engaging way to explore the complexities of language, emotion, and perspective. It not only enhances vocabulary and expressive skills but also deepens students' understanding of how different individuals can interpret the same concept in various ways. This activity fosters a classroom environment that values diversity, creativity, and empathy.


Adapting Dixit Using UDL Principles


  1. Multiple Means of Engagement:

  • Age-Appropriate Themes: Tailor the themes of the Dixit cards to suit the age and interests of the group. Younger children may enjoy simpler, more concrete themes, while older students can delve into more abstract or complex themes.

  • Choice and Autonomy: Offer students choices in selecting cards or vocabulary words, empowering them with a sense of control and catering to their interests and motivations.

  1. Multiple Means of Representation:

  • Visual and Verbal Cues: Utilize the rich imagery of Dixit cards along with verbal prompts to cater to both visual and auditory learners.

  • Scaffolding: For younger or less experienced students, provide additional support, like simpler vocabulary lists or guided discussions, to help them engage with the activity.

  1. Multiple Means of Action and Expression:

  • Diverse Expression Outlets: Allow students to express their thoughts and choices in different ways, such as through spoken word, written responses, or even artistic expressions like drawing.

  • Flexible Grouping: Adapt the game for individual, small group, or whole-class participation, depending on the students' needs and comfort levels.

  1. Accessibility and Inclusivity:

  • Ensure that all students, regardless of their learning needs or language proficiency, can participate meaningfully. This might involve providing translations, using simplified language, or allowing non-verbal expressions of choices.

  1. Cross-Curricular Connections:

  • Use Dixit to connect with other areas of study. For example, link the themes of the cards to historical events, scientific concepts, or literary works, providing a multidisciplinary approach to learning.


Benefits of Dixit in a UDL Framework

  • Engages Diverse Learners: Dixit’s open-ended nature appeals to a wide range of ages and abilities, making it an ideal tool for inclusive classrooms.

  • Fosters Critical and Creative Thinking: The game encourages students to think abstractly and creatively, engaging different cognitive skills.

  • Enhances Social-Emotional Learning: By discussing different perspectives and interpretations, students develop empathy and social awareness.

  • Adaptable to Various Learning Goals: Dixit can be modified to align with specific educational objectives, whether it's language development, art appreciation, or social studies.


Dixit, when used within the UDL framework, becomes an invaluable tool in the educator's arsenal. It not only makes learning more engaging and inclusive but also nurtures a range of skills from critical thinking to social-emotional learning, catering to a diverse classroom where every student's learning journey is valued and supported.

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