Well, we begin again! It is that joyful time of year when the state test is finished. In class, we talked about the standardized test as a way for the state to see what we know. But now, we get to show the state what we know our way! And, our way is way more fun!
We started again on an alternate reality game. Earlier in the year, when we were playing the 1 Destination game that the students created last year, several current sixth graders said that they would like to add on to the game this year. However, when we began discussing the game today, all the current sixth graders were adamant that they wanted their own game.
So, we spent the day playing two different games to get a feel for the genre. The first game we played was the 1 Destination game. We also played the 39 Clues alternate reality game that is available online. That led to a brainstorming session about our dreams for our own alternate reality game. The students have high expectations! I hope my feeble expertise can live up to those expectations!
One of the big take-aways for me is the students stance on the written word vs. videos or other means of communication. I remember last year, students wanted to use video and we made extensive use of it. In fact, even the problems themselves were embedded in the videos. Some of our players last year commented that they wished the problems - at least the problem they had to solve – was in writing so they wouldn’t have to go back through the video again. This year, students commented on the amount of text in the 39 Clues game. They said that they did not want that much text. Somewhere there is a balance between written text and videos. Maybe we’ll find it this year!
I know this is late, but I wanted to post one of my student’s Game Development Documentary. (I was delayed as I was getting permission to post and she was editing.) This was written on May 15, 2009 by a student without prompting or request. I felt compelled to share it and after you read it, I think you will understand why. Here it is:
Sixth Grade Game Development Documentary 1
Written About: Rountree Sixth Grade Students
Written By: Brianna
Our Rountree students have been developing an alternate reality game the last six weeks of school We are just beginning development, but will finish with great excitement and a positive attitude! This documentary will help all players that play our game and give them clues while playing the game. Our game does not have a name, but will with the process. Our game is about four main characters, two teens and two adults. Their names are Brooke Summers, Kyle, Damonte Ramirez, and another woman with no name yet. Let me explain our characters, Brooke is from New York, New York and is a very snooty person. She is fifteen and a half and also rich. She somehow knows stuff about the island. She gets mysterious text messages from her cell phone that barely works. Kyle on the other hand is a pilot who flew the plane to the island. He is also prone to accidents, so something will most likely happen to him the game. Damonte is a “G” from Compton, California and he is sixteen. He is known as a bad kid and always is stirring up trouble. The other adult woman is divorced and lost her close loved one. She is sort of quiet and out of the picture thou [sic], for now at least. The island is very weird. Every bad thing that happens on Manhattan Island happens on our island. For instance if there is a water plant in Manhattan then there’s a fresh water source on the island in that same exact spot on our island. We are now working on the plot of the game. We think it will go something like this: Every person is on the island for a reason and some how it will change your life. The island is out of balance and needs someone or something to put it back in balance. Our characters have to travel back in time and go to different desinations on the island to put in secret codes. To get a code, you have to answer a ratio and proportion question. You have to go to all the destinations, come back in time, and be able to somehow get off the island. This game is in our hands and with enough imagination we can make a game of all games. Our game is the first alternate reality game to be on the internet thru [sic] K-twelfth grade. Our imagination is bigger than undergraduates. (Not saying our game is better.) I can’t wait to journal you in again on what sixth grade is doing and how our game is coming. With the amazing help of the best math teacher in the world Julie McLeod, ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE FOR FUTURE GENERATION MATH!
Well, our game is basically finished! We only have one more interview video to post after I get the written approval from the students’ mother! To play, navigate to: http://juliemcleod.org/1destination
As with any project that I tackle for the first time, the game surpassed my expectations in some ways and in other ways, I feel we still have so much work to do. Yet, we are wrapping up the school year and have run out of time. When we did our final reflective interview for the year, many of the students noted this work as particularly engaging yet challenging. Jackpot!