Goal: Turn my class into a full fledged adventure with a coherent story that motivates the kids to progress through the content.
I have a decent beginning, but haven’t got my head wrapped around how to move the story forward with the tasks I need them to complete. In my class, we do quite a bit: Reading, Writing, Syntax, Vocabulary, and Speaking.
Some of those elements lends itself well to a storyline, but some do not. I am trying to figure how to get grammar into the storyline at the moment.
So far: The kids awaken on a distant planet in an unknown universe. They stepped through a ‘wormhole’ and woke up on this alien planet. They encounter law enforcement immediately, but are rescued by some people and taken back to their hidden domain tucked away underneath the city. They explain that they too arrived here via a random ‘wormhole’. One minute they were walking to school – the next they were here on this planet. This group is a motley group from different universes – some human, some not.
So, on this planet, they have no cash. They turn in their thoughts for rewards (Time Coins or Knowledge Points) which they can spend to buy food, supplies, etc. The planet thrives on knowledge. Each home is equipped with a machine (the Prothemis Machine) that sucks your knowledge right out of you – if you have any to give. So, these people read a book and then hook to the machine – reap rewards. They learn how to multiply three digit numbers then hook to the machine – reap more rewards. If they do not learn, they cannot live.
However, you find out early that this group of people have ‘pulled’ you to this planet – it was not a random occurrence at all. They need your help to fight the evil forces enslaving mankind and stealing their knowledge – like Mind Thieves. This evil group (government controlled, of course) receives the knowledge from the machines. Whenever they do not receive knowledge from the machine, they come to your home and…well, use your imagination! It is not pretty. (Maybe they lobotomize you and send you to the mines?)
So, the group needs you, specifically, for some reason. (Haven’t worked that out)
They need to infiltrate certain sectors of the city to talk to people, obtain clues, devise plans, etc. However, getting from here to there costs money, which means they need to earn points by submitting knowledge.
So, the kids need to get from Point A to Point B and they need to earn 50 Time Coins (or whatever) to pay for the cab ride.
Character ‘A’ gives each student some options to quickly earn some points and away we go with the game.
They earn enough to get to Point A to Point B, but wait! now they need to buy a hovercopter to get to the Nitany Peaks to intercept some important device to hack into the knowledge base (for some reason).
I think I should try to keep it linear until I get a grasp on the game – not too many choices at first. Choices come when achievements are made.
I do need the kids to learn skills to help them progress through high school and get into college without getting their butts kicked, so I cannot allow them to dodge certain (or any) choices or paths.
This game does allow for personal student pacing; they can work through the content at their own pace, BUT what to do when the kids are not motivated to proceed or are having difficulties. What happens if and when they reach an impenetrable wall – a subject they never seem to grasp? If it was just me and 10 kids, I would say ‘Sure!’ I can handle creating a uniquely paced adventure, but that is not the case. I have 50 students at once between my two blocks.
Imagine if I asked fifty students to play through Portal 2. Some kids would fly through it and others would move slowly. Some kids would find it amazing and exciting, while others would find it tedious and boring. I know I could not ‘pace out’ playing through Portal 2. What kind of game could be paced as a group?
It would also be very hard to have whole-class book discussions when everyone is on a different schedule or different pace. Worse yet, what if some students begin a book before others and then they just share the story with the slower group. The group that started late would probably not read it.
So, I think for me, I need to keep the novel reading schedule universal regardless of where they are in the story. I have had great success turning non-readers into readers by reading, sharing, and discussing good books. Reading on their own rips the socialization right out of it. I wouldn’t be able to have 50 one-on-one conversations (and know they are comprehending the material) when everyone is reading something different or on different chapters. Also, most of the writing stems from the books – the presentations, too.
So, how do I design an 18 week storylined game where the novels, essays, and presentations have non-negotiable time lines, and they must get through lists of vocabulary words and learn specific elements of grammar and syntax.
I think the answer will come to me, but I don’t think that is even the hardest part.
The most difficult part will be maintaining the story throughout the course.
I think I need a team – or 5 years.
Just brainstorming… I think I feel my brain reaching maximum overload.
I’ll keep adding to this post as I think of new ideas.