Traditional writing projects often rely on specific standard formats and timeworn writing techniques. Whether its a personal narrative, a creative essay, or a research project, many of the writing projects that educators present and require of their students as summative assessments often do not interact with the other aspects of writing that are so necessary to be a complete, innovative writer; skills like collaboration, editing, brainstorming, and in-depth question writing are often a minimized or missing component of student writing projects.
However, applying game-based learning, particularly role-playing games (RPGs), provide an innovative and communal structure for writing in any content area classroom. RPGs, popularized by Dungeons and Dragons in the 1970s and 80s, encourage groups of players to create characters and stories with the help of a Dungeon Master (DM), who acts both as a game leader and the storyteller. RPG players make choices within the game which, with the help of trusty dice, move the story forward. RPGs are an adaptable format to any content area with many permutations and derivations available to educators; an English Language Arts educator could lead his classroom through a gaming session taking students to 1920s New York and Gatsby's parties, and a math educator could develop a game that sees students building fortifications in ancient Britain using basic geometric skills, or a science educator could recreate the space race in game format for students to explore. Using the RPG game model to create, recreate, and then document the gaming decision-making process can provide learners with a unique, communal storytelling project.
Furthermore, when paired with a traditional writing modality like a research essay, it opens up possibilities for the topic, question development, and direct collaboration with classmates on a passion project. Of course, throughout this process educators can choose how much technology is applied to the gaming and writing experience from hands-on with paper and pencil to deep integrations of technology with AR/VR, mapping software, and website development.
Participants will engage in the entire process of exploring game-based learning, RPs in particular, then experiencing an RPG campaign developed by the presenters set in a post-apocalyptic school setting. Participants will be assigned a dungeon master who will guide them through the experience, help them explore possible technology applications, and then conclude the experience with a short discussion about curricular applications in participants' classrooms.
Game-based learning is an incredible, under utilized mode for engaging students in the storytelling and writing process across grade levels and content areas.
In a 1-hour interactive session, the presenters will follow:
- 5 min - Introductions/Share materials for the presentation and game.
- 10 minutes - Explore Game-Based learning and its differences from Game Theory. Dan and Matt will share some of the examples they have used to teach content area subjects using game-based learning models, particularly RPGs.
- 30 minutes - Participants will divide into small groups with a dungeon master (DM). The DM will then lead participants through a Role-Playing Game experience focused on living and surviving as an educator in a post-apocalyptic world. The DM will share the basic rules, help participants play the game, and provide story advances based on group choices. During this time, participants will use a variety of technology (Google Docs, Forms, Drawings, Maps, Adobe Creative Suite, Adobe Aero, and cameras) to navigate the experience and also produce artifacts for future writing.
- 10 minutes - Breakdown of the experience, the parts of the game, and how an RPG model could be applied to different content areas.
- 5 minutes - Closing remarks / Q&A
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