There’s a tendency for people to think that games are really only suited for a social studies classroom or maybe for use in a study hall, but that isn’t the case. Really, teachers don’t even need to invest a ton of money to incorporate games into their classrooms. Here’s an example that could be used for any classroom where writing is being taught whether the students are in 5th grade or seniors.
For this, the teacher doesn’t have to be the center of attention. Indeed, a lot of the ‘work’ of this game can take place outside of the classroom at the discretion of the students. This leaves time for other stuff to be done with class time!
I’m going to presume 24 students in this classroom. For supplies/preparation–the teacher will need to create a tallyboard of some sort. It can be public or not, teacher’s discretion.
4 students are going to become editors/publishers. They will each receive $1,000,000 to spend on purchasing stories from authors. They are responsible for editing stories, formatting them, and assembling them into a ‘book’. They can do this in any way they wish. They could pay a ton of their money for three stories total or they could purchase 10,000(hah!) stories for $100 each. The publishers have to decide what is good enough to make their final ‘book’.
20 students are authors competing to get their stories published. They can write them however they want. They can ask publishers for topics or they can write and see if a publisher is interested. They can negotiate a deal ahead of time or they can try and create a bidding war for their work. Heck, they can even do illustrations if they so desire to enhance the sale value!
At the end of the simulation–which the teacher can let run for a month since it is not interfering with classtime, the teacher can declare ‘winners’. Whoever the teacher feels created the best book ‘wins’ and gets some sort of prize. The author who has sold the most stories should be recognized as should the author who made the most money.
The only catch is–don’t make their grade related to the money or anything. Some kids are shy, some are going to use friendships to make these deals. When it comes time for evaluation, all of the writings should be collected from each student, so that they can be judged on their own merits. The assembled books are what the publishers are judged on.
Then, the teacher can create one final assignment–an essay: “What did you learn from this? What do you think of the publishing process?”
If you have 5th graders, these may be short 1-2 page stories; high school seniors may turn in 8-10 page stories on serious topics. Either way, you’ve provided a spark to write–and you’ve provided a means for critical thinking as well as the writers consider their audience throughout the process…all in the guise of being a ‘game’.