The Writer Games
The Writer Games is an English Language Arts based game-like unit of study, or Mission, that I co-designed for an 8th grade English class at New York City public school, Quest to Learn. The mission is rolled out to students in an exciting and mysterious manner – the teacher dressed up from head to toe as Effie Trinket of the HungerGames, announces to the whole 8th grade class that they will be participating in the 1st annual Quest to Learn Writer Games. The WriterGames, she explains, culminates in a Dystopian fiction writing contest.
But before they can write their own Dystopian piece, they must read, discuss, and debate existing Dystopian fiction and then practice their writing skills. To that end, students participate in literature circles, each with it’s own unique District identity, based on the Dystopian novel their group is reading. Students also participate in weekly Socratic Smackdowns, game-like discussions and debates, in which they can earn or lose points for their district. For creative inspiration and practice with writing, students play a number of collaborative writing games, in which students write dystopian stories together. And finally, they begin an intensive two week creative drive to write short pieces of their own to prepare for the Writer Games, in which they write “to the death” and hope that the “Odds are ever in their paper!”