I started this year asking my students how they would design school. I noticed they really struggle with this question, because they have spent 11 years in the system that has been created for them. However, the things I kept hearing from all of my classes were:
- We want to work at our own pace.
- We want to make learning a competition.
- We want to pick what we learn.
I took all of these ideas into consideration when I designed my next unit. I debated on allowing my students to choose the next novel we read, but with time constraints and a lack of resources I decided I would choose this time. However, I would try to add something that would help spark student interest. . .zombies.
We have lots of fans of “The Walking Dead”, so I decided we would add a zombie twist to our novel The Great Gatsby. Also, to make it a competition and to allow students to work at their own pace, I designed The Walking Gatsby Survival Game.
Students have been placed in survival groups, and they must finish tasks in order to earn survival tools. We have a large game board hanging on the wall, and students move their game piece once their group has successfully completed a task.
This allows students to work at their own pace, and adds the gamification piece at the same time. It also motivates the students who might not work during class when they know they can take as long as they need.
So far the game is going well. The kids love moving the game pieces, and getting ahead of their peers, but they also don’t feel pressure to rush. It is going to take us a while to get through Gatsby, but I believe my kids are going to go deeper into their learning this way.