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Subject: High School English teacher wants to know... rss

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Wade Kemper
United States
Hampstead
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Hi folks,

Long time member, 1st time poster. I teach at a high school in Carroll County, MD. At any given year I could be teaching a number of different classes: Currently I am teaching Drama I and Creative Writing. I also have taught British Literature, and basic English I.

I love games, but I'm also constantly looking for ways to use them in the classroom:

So far I've been able to successfully utilize Werewolves of Miller's Hollow for Drama class (They have to create characters and portray them the entire time. Any accusations and defenses must be in character. It's a lot of fun and really forces the kids to understand character.)

I have yet to do this, but my next idea is to use Once Upon a Time and it's expansion for Creative Writing class. Seems like a no brainer.

Beyond that, I have no idea.

I think the biggest obstacle is the fact that most games are limited in their number of players. Werewolves works because I bought two sets. (I have a class of 25-30 on average.)

I would love to figure a way to work in Caylus, Fury of Dracula, Beowulf, and Betrayal at Camelot.

Does anyone else have an idea for a game that would work well? If I can get some good ideas, it will be worth buying multiple copies so that I can bring in the entire class to play.

Thanks in Advance!

Wade
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J. Green
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One game I know works for classes is Take it Easy but that's math. As for English, my suggestion is take any adventure game and let the kids turn gameplay events into a story.

For example, Fury of Dracula is a deduction game featuring characters, locations, items and events. Play a few turns, then get the kids to write chapters in the ongoing story to flesh out the details. They could write about any aspect of the game turns: Dracula's hasty escape from Spain on a ship bound for England just before sunrise; finding a partially turned vampire in a crypt by Van Helsing and Mina, and the conflict in Mina who is torn in her allegiance after being bitten, etc.

You could do the same thing with Arkham Horror. Read an H.P. Lovecraft short story and then start a game, play a few turns (get teams of players to vote on what the characters will do) and then get them to write stories based on what happens. Emphasize character, motivation, plot, and turn it into a serial.

Show them how to to a one-sentence version of the story, then a one-paragraph version of the story, then a one-chapter version of the story.

Alternately, have them create a story that weaves the random threads of a few turns together into a coherent plot.

Adventure games are basically played so you can tell cool stories later. One of the best games for this is Tales of the Arabian nights, which is being reprinted. Look for it from Z-Man later this year (hopefully).
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Kevin Li
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How about Hamlet!?
 
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One game I use in class is Word Jam.

I printed out the letters and put them in magazine storage bags with card inserts, so they are easily read by everyone in the room, and I place them on the ledge of the board.

I have even modified the categories.

I have the students play in teams.

It gets pretty wild, but is a good vocabulary builder/spelling game.

Word Jam
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Daniel Sarasio Meyer
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Forest City
Iowa
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Word Blur Word Blur is a great game for an English class.
 
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Matt R
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Creative writing? This might be a long shot, but Balderdash *might* work, although the game can get a little crazy. It definitely rewards creativity and bluffing.
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Wendy
United States
Fredericksburg
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Quelf for Drama.
 
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Sean Dooley
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Hey Wade!

I teach as well and have also used a few games in the classroom. I do teach younger kids (6th grade), so my implementation is very different. I've used a NUMBER of different games for different things.

For teaching sequencing I've used Anachronism. The students wrote down what happened every turn. Then, from there, they wrote "battle reports" (both the males and females LOVED this) using their sequencing notes.

I used Thebes in conjunction with our social studies teacher in a pretty fun way. The game was played and the student then had to pick one of the artifacts they found and write about where it may have come from. Who had it, why it was important (or unimportant, we only think it is), etc. This was also really fun and we got some really good historical creative stories from it.

BattleLore has been used in a similar way.

Finally, I used Notre Dame to supplement a unit I did on the idea "gothic." It worked really well too.

Note that a lot of these games obviously don't support enough players to play a game with all students. That being said, I usually break the kids up in to teams and have stations while I'm doing it.

Good luck!

Sean
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Tsar Count
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How about the classic, Scrabble?. You can buy the basic version cheaply. I like the game, but whenever I play I always feel like I am studying for the SAT's again. I wish I had a more fun way to learn vocabulary in High School; maybe I would have a better one now and wouldn't suck at Scrabble.
 
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Scott Alden
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Beyond Balderdash - where you have to write a synopsis of the movie title.
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Denee Tyler
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If you are interested in Scrabble, here's a good link: http://www.scrabble-assoc.com/schools/flyer.html. I am also a high school English teacher, but I don't use games in my classroom during English. I actually teach a board game class, though, so I guess that makes up for it.
 
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Jorge Arroyo
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Two titles come to mind right now:

Universalis (Revised Edition) - It's about cooperative storytelling. Maybe for a large class, it sould be played in groups. The game uses some interesting mechanics and a simple economy to decide who can control each element of the story. Very interesting.

Nanofictionary - about collecting plot elements and coming up with short stories. Changes would have to be made to accomodate a large number of people (maybe again in groups?) I haven't played this one...

-Jorge
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Todd McCorkle
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Nanofictionary by loony labs is another story telling game that might be worth looking into.

The Pillars of the Earth is based off of a book. I don't know if there's enough there to make a lesson comparing the two or how the game portrays the book. Assuming no one has read the book, you can tell them the game is based off of a book, have them play, and then they try to outline/story tell the book. *shrug*

You could show the class Amun-Re and gola's session report to show that anything can be turned into a story/narrative.
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/24697
 
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Man thinks, the river flows.
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    Wrong web site bud -- you should consider role playing games for creative writing. Also useful for Drama.

    I think where role playing often falls down is when the GM writes a story rather than a scenario. Taking the time and effort to paint an entire town, develop subplots and detailed character profiles, locations, relationships, etc., is what really separates the men from the boys. Good GMs write a good story. Great GMs write a good scenario.

    It also provides the opportunity to make your young writers really look deeply into providing the kind of complex backdrop that gives their main storyline a weighty and anchored feel. Short role playing sessions of their submissions provide excellent test cases for how well they've thought out their scenario, and if they are writing theater material it might not even take that -- simply handing the character profiles to other students and seeing what questions arise can be quite enlightening.

    Additionally, an excellent scenario can provide a backdrop to dozens of substories. If you were to create that backdrop and refine it you could assign the students projects to create storylines that function within the scenario, challenging them to expand it if need be. Dramas could come from that as well.

    Ok, back to boardgaming.

             Sag.
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Wade Kemper
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Thanks for all the suggestions folks!

So far the Arkham Horror idea sounds the coolest (with groups making decisions for the individuals)

I have yet to follow the links yet, so I can't comment on them, but I shall... OH I SHALL

As far as the Role Playing. Good ideas, but it would take way too long to prepare/ execute, not to mention have a genre that would appeal to everyone. Besides, I do have a cirriculum to follow. Single session games (or maybe over 2-3 sessions) don't compromise my courses too much.
So I would say I'm on the right web page, bud.
 
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Ray Thomson
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Just a thought - why not use games to teach review structure (could also be used to teach essays). In that way, you could use stations with different types of games aimed at a different demographic. Give each student a target audience, and let them play for themselves. I was thinking of trying this out in my senior English class this year - review writing is one of the standards assessed.

(On an [un]related note, you could also use playstation/xbox to get the students to write a summary of a sports simulation as if it was an actual game. Would be a great way to teach concepts such as slang, jargon, cliche, as well as a heap of other techniques)...
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Robin
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Shakespeare: The Bard Game

If you are teaching Shakespeare and drama, you may want to look into this game. To practice acting, students can perform parts of plays to collect money to produce plays at different theaters.

It works well with groups or teams and you pick the amount of time the game will take.

Good Luck and I hope you find what you are looking for.
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Ryan Johnson
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Im kind of surprised Aldie (back it up, way back, back back) didn't mention;

Spinergy

Under the right atmosphere, this is really a great creative writting tool.


 
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Daniel Hurst
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McTreble wrote:

At any given year I could be teaching a number of different classes: Currently I am teaching Drama I and Creative Writing. I also have taught British Literature, and basic English I.


My first thought is "Britannia" for British Literature, perhaps. Although it may be a little involved, it certainly gives historical context in a very concrete way. I am NOT a history guy, but I feel like I internalized a lot of Brit context by playing through the game. It might be expecially fun if you marked some "literary dates" within the game for the kids while it played out.

When you get to the end of a "Funny Friends" game, the cards you picked will often tell a story if you read them front to back. It could easily be used to flesh out characters for writing/drama. Beware, the game has a decidedly progressive slant, but so do most creative writing and drama students I guess.

"Attribute" might be good. Excellent for vocabulary and "slant rhyme" definitions useful in creative writing. It's also a hoot. "Apples to Apples" falls in this category. "Once Upon A Time" is one of my all-time favorites.

"Why Did the Chicken" is an unbridled good time. Requiring both drama skills and creative writing. What other games can teach "funny"? I might be a little careful doing this on school grounds, but you know your class better than I do. Every session I'm involved in seems to get a little edgy.

If you could do a teen "How to Host a Murder/Mystery", that might be fun. Even though you've got more kids than roles, the rest of the class can "help" and ask questions and such. Shoot, you could give a role to a group of 4 or something and let them switch out the acting duties between rounds.

Both "The Big Idea" and "Witch Trial" might be fun. Played correctly, they both allow for a story and require salesmanship/dramatization.

Finally, go check out "1000 Blank White Cards". Virtually always a blast in any creative group. Plus, I imagine you could make up rules to channel it in whatever direction you want to go. I think it could easily go in a drama direction and maybe a creative writing angle. Even dividing up the class into groups and letting each group play a "hand" of cards which make themselves or another group act/write something for points.
 
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Jussi Autio
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Hello,

I run a gaming company here in Finland and other than PC games, we're also making board games as much as we have time for. One of the games we're working right now is called Modern Society. We plan to get it used as educational game by Finnish schools and so far the test results we've got from schools have been far better than I expected, truly superb really. Teachers love it and so does the students. The best feedback one teacher had got from a student was that "the game was so excellent the happy mood I got from it lasted for another day." This is particularly surprising as there are also quite harsh themes in the game and it's not even trying to be all happy and joy.


In the game players all live in the same society which is described by the game board. In the game board there's four value indicators that show what the people in the society value. Militarism shows how much they appreciate police, the army, national security and so forth. Economy show how wealthy the society is and how well people appreciate fame and fortune. Human values show how much people appreciate things like equality, human rights and so forth. And lastly Green values show how healthy the environment is and how much people appreciate environmental values like organic farming or renewable energy production.



The game then proceed by players playing game cards which are trends and events in the society - issues that are hot potatoes for the time being. The cards either give points through one or more of the values and also might raise or lower the values and thus adjust the victory point multipliers for each value. The game cards themselves describe real-life issues or events like Equality, War on Terrorism, Oceans get polluted, Raise in Corporate Tax and so forth. And many of the cards have either compos making them stronger if another card is in play or special abilities like Torturing Scandal preventing all militarism points to be scored that round or Strike Wave to do the same for economy points (and others to other values).

The idea with this game in school is that double lecture is to be used for the game. 60 minutes should be enough to play the game and then 30 minutes is to be use for teacher-led-discussion over the topics that rise from the game. The feedback we've got is that this is an excellent way of combining different aspects that are thought in Social Studies such as media, law, economy and so forth.

So right now we're streamlining the game a bit more to fit lectures a bit better, but we're also pleased to tell that as it seems now it will be published at least in the United States and Canada, next year. However as we're focusing now on Finnish schools it would be nice to hear if there are any teachers from other countries who would be interested in using the game in their classroom. If there are enough people who would be willing to buy the game for their school then we could use extra effort to translate the teacher's material into English as well.

Frank Schulte-Kulkmann wrote a nice preview on the game while he tested it in Spiel. Search for Tuonela in this link: http://www.boardgame.de/specials/messe/essen07/essen07.htm
 
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Tony Chen
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Have them read Dracula and then play Fury of the Dracula?

Or have them play a thematic game and write a session report?
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Andy Leighton
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How about The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen? Ok so the game as a game is OOP but it does exist as one of the appendices of the book Second Person.
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Joseph Balcuk
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I am looking for teachers who are interested in using games in the classroom. I invented a game called "The Spoils of Civilization." The game was specifically designed for group play (classrooms with 20 to 30 kids) and uses the same logic that kids see in everyday computer games. I would be willing to offer these games at cost in order to get teachers to demo them. You can see more information at the web site www.themerbs.com . Please email me if you have teachers who are looking for out-of-the-box ideas to promote learning. The game is currently used by math, science, english, and social studies teachers. Please email me if you would like to try it, I can get the games for much cheaper than what is described on the site. I know about a tachers budget, being a fellow math teacher on Long Island, NY. I can be reached at precisionmath@aol.com
Looking to reach open minded teachers who are tired of dittos,
Mr. B
 
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Michael Crowley
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apples to apples for vocab acquisition, break deaks into groups and let students play in groups of 5-7. I do it all the time.
 
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Eric Jome
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I think one way that would be interesting is to see how an important piece of literature has spawned lots of other works.

If you were to read Bram Stoker's Dracula, then you could assign derivative works to small groups in the class, asking them to give a report on how that work relates to the original. So, one small group could take Fury of Dracula, learn and play the game, and look for things inspired by the source. Another group could perhaps be assigned a film, images in art, and so on.

In fact, you could make a whole series of units out of this, with the general subject matter being important works of literature and their influence on culture.
 
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