Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Calkins and Tabletop Gaming - Day 1

Last year I developed a unit where my students created Tabletop Games about Human Rights issues. It was a rather clunky unit with some errors and things that didn't go as smoothly as they should have, but at the end of it the kids had created some very memorable and well-developed games. At the end of last year, our district introduced the Lucy Calkins curriculum to our Literacy classes. When I found out I figured I'd have to just scrap my Tabletop Game Unit and tying in any games to my Literacy class. But as I taught the units of writing, I realized that there so many different avenues I could take using games in conjunction with Lucy Calkins. By January I knew that I would be able to keep my Tabletop Game Unit.

Over Spring Break I put the final touches on the unit, which, of course, will still be in progress while it rolled out in my classroom, but I had a plan. I had a vision. Due to the overwhelming success of the content and how my kids have connected with Calkins, I wanted to start to post some of what we're doing throughout the unit. It's a culminating unit using the three strategies of Lucy Calkins. The level of writing that my students have risen to is beyond amazing and I am so proud of each and every one of them. Due to the efforts of my co-teachers and myself, we were able to really help each and every student develop and grow. Now it's just ensuring that they are able to use what they learn in Literacy in their other classes. Once they learn transference, these kids will be golden! And that's kind of part of this activity. Using what they learned and applying it to different activities!

Day 1

Introducing the project to the students. I gave each student a handout that helped step us through the unit and focused on important deadlines and what they'll need to do in order to be successful.

Narrative, Argumentative, & Informative Writing Meet Tabletop Games!

Are You Ready?!
Welcome to the apex unit for Literacy. You are about to embark on the final activity that will demonstrate everything you have learned about writing this year. Instead of having you write three more papers, your new challenge will include a real world task; you will be expected to create a tabletop game!

  • You will learn to apply the strategies of writing to tasks that you might encounter in the real world.
  • You will learn to use close reading strategies to help develop, improve, and critique your projects and the projects of others.
  • You will learn to work with partners in an extremely creative environment with real deadlines.
  • You will learn to interact with real world members of the gaming community.

What Do I Have to Do?
  1. Play some games.
  2. Pick a Mentor Game (Also known as a Mentor Text).
  3. Come up with a Narrative for your own game.
  4. Create a pitch that explains what your game is like.
  5. Make the pitch to a professional and get feedback.
  6. Write the Narrative for your game.
  7. Write the informative booklet that explains your game.
  8. Create the game.
  9. Construct the game.
  10. Play-test the game and get feedback.
  11. Create an argument for why a publisher should buy your game.
  12. Try to sell your game to a professional gamer.

Group Members: _________________________________________________

Mentor Game: ______________________________________________

Important Dates:
  • Monday, April 20 - Mentor Game Chosen
  • Wednesday, April 22 - Friday, April 24 - Have a Pitch Ready for Mr. B
  • Thursday, April 30 - Finished Narrative for Game
  • Friday, May 8 - Completed Written Directions Booklet
Draft of Game Components Completed
  • Wednesday, May 20 - Directions Booklet, Game Prototype, & Argumentative Presentation Done
  • Thursday, May 21 - Begin playtesting
  • Tuesday, May 26 - Last day of playtesting
  • Wednesday, May 27 - Presenting your finalized game to buyers
  • Friday, May 29 - All games and presentations turned in.



The students were allowed to pick a partner to work with. Each class has one group of three, due to numbers. Once they picked their groups we went over the deadlines that they were going to run up against throughout the project. It is important for them to really start to understand the importance of deadlines. I went over this with them, especially regarding Mr. B coming in. It's not like this person could come in another day just to meet with them, because they didn't do their work. This person scheduled special time to be there and could only be there during that time. Too often kids think they can just hand stuff in whenever they want, because we're not really scoring whether they can turn in assignments on time, we're scoring the assignment or benchmark. So I really wanted to enforce real world deadlines.

This also allows students to plan ahead. I sent the deadlines home to the parents via an e-mail through our online grading system, hoping that they will also be aware of the deadlines that their children are facing. Most of the kids are excited enough to hopefully keep the deadlines, but it's a good fallback for if concerns arise.

Finally, I shared with the students some of the projects from last year, so they could see some of the things that they will get to work with. I showed them some of the boards students made for the board games, cards, and the artwork that some of the more artistic students did on their own, as well as digital artwork. This last bit was to get them jazzed and keep them motivated.

Hopefully tomorrow's attempt try share vocabulary and start to expose them to "mentor games" won't be a bust! 

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