We are about to head into the final term (home straight) for the year. The year 8 team have been working on what we call a parallel curriculum for English and Humanities which also allowed us to integrate SparkL (a project based learning approach to literacy) and Live4life (a local shire initiative dealing with mental health). This term we are embracing the idea of differentiated curriculum … all four of us will still be working towards the same goals and outcomes but each of us is taking a different approach and even varying topics covered in our class groups.
I have blogged about my use of games in the classroom and the more I read the more I am convinced to keep doing this. In my classroom this term I wanted to have a writing workshop theme for the English component and Rainforests for the Humanities component. As a team we are still trying to incorporate opportunities for PBL and students managing personal learning. So …
… I had this crazy idea! Why not create a game that incorporated all of this.
Write Step! is the product I have developed.
It has four pathways (named for the functions of writing I wish to promote: creative, instructional, informative and persuasive). Each pathway has five levels and students will need to develop skills in order to progress through the levels.
Skill development is recorded separately and I have leaderboards for various skills as well as pathway progression. So we have competition with self and competition with class built-in.
There is no set goal level to achieve … that will be determined by the students. Students can work in teams or by themselves.
We have nine sessions together each week: I have structured the game so that all sessions build skills. We will still continue with our reading programme (FAB – friends and books) but this can be a stimulus for writing for Write Step! We will have master classes (so I can do some explicit teaching in relation to grammar, punctuation, form and function). I plan to set up stimulus for writing using our Ultranet space, classroom displays, games played on wii / netbooks / ds. (Building on the experiences we have been using in our classroom all year.) Students must book a teacher conference (another practice we have been fostering) at least once a fortnight which may be used to present work to “beat the boss” and progress to the next level, discuss problems, nut out creative ideas for new writing tasks.
The students won’t actually know exactly what they need to do to beat each level (that’s part of the learning) and potentially anything they write could be submitted in an attempt to “beat the boss”.
I’m really excited by this concept. When I finally stopped to take a breath and asked myself that important question “Would you want to be a student in this classroom?”, the answer was a resounding “YES!”
I’m now just nervous about how my students will react! Have I over planned? Have I made it too busy? Am I going to overwhelm them? I guess I’ll find out … term four here we come!