Using games to develop Halloween narrative writing

“One Halloween night there lived a vampire who had sharp fangs for can opening…”

That was how one of my students began his narrative story about Halloween.

An interactive game helped inspire elementary school students to write narrative stories about Halloween. The students used a series of dice to help them tell stories that had a beginning, middle, and end. One of the tools used for the exercise are Rory’s Story Cubes, a storytelling game that uses dice and pictures to spark one’s imagination and encourage creativity.

A group of ten students on IEPs were tasked to write narratives that have a well-elaborated event or short sequence of events with details, one of the Common Core Content Standards for the primary grades.

Since I first started working to promote media literacy, I have been passionate about using storytelling and interactive games as a teaching tool to inspire and motivate my students.

This Halloween story is part of my ongoing research to prove that creativity and storytelling play an important role in the classroom and learning environment.

Nearly every student demonstrated much progress and growth. A rubric with the following criteria was used to assess the students’ level of understanding: minimal understanding, partial understanding, adequate understanding, and thorough understanding.

Seventy percent of the students demonstrated that they now have adequate understanding or better. In addition to their improved ability to communicate their thoughts and ideas, they have shown an increased level of motivation and have expressed excitement about their stories.

While, the students were still not yet at grade level, their progress and work demonstrated knowledge and understanding of some of their basic grade level Common Core Standards such as the ability to write a narrative about an imaginary event using details and event sequences.

This particular activity demonstrated that the use of creativity and storytelling helps motivate students and improves their ability to communicate their thoughts as they are given them an opportunity to learn by doing something they can make connections to.

When I first met the student quoted earlier, he demonstrated only a partial understanding of the learning goals established by the Common Core Standards. In addition, he exhibited autistic behavior and was classified as an English Language Learner. He was very passionate about video games and loved to share the stories that he learns from them. I encouraged him to share those stories and to create his own.

Utilizing his passion for video games was an effective way to motivate him and get him to communicate through writing.

 

 

 

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Tabletop roleplaying games such as D&D can help people prepare for their adventures in life

Earlier this week, Ethan Gilsdorf, the author of the author of Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks, wrote about the 14 life lessons he had learned from playing “Dungeons & Dragons”. According to him, the game taught him about purpose, imagination, and having a great adventure.

Life is an adventure that requires creativity and imagination, both of which are important tools that help people become successful in life.

Dungeons and Dragons (D&D), as well as many other fantasy tabletop roleplaying games emphasize storytelling and collaboration. Like Gilsdorf explained, diversity plays an important role in games such as D&D because various races such as humans, dwarves, and elves need to learn to work together in order to succeed and survive on their adventures.

Previously, I stressed the importance of creativity in education as well as in the workplace.

I explained how interactive games and tabletop roleplaying games can be used as a teaching tool to promote storytelling and foster creativity and learning.

In addition, I wrote In Creativity in the workplace:

Creativity plays an important role in business or any organization as it helps generate new ideas and examine new opportunities. Creativity and innovation also allow organizations to be competitive and be able to adapt to unexpected changes.

I wrote in Interactive games and tabletop roleplaying games as a teaching tool, about several important lessons that can be learned by playing roleplaying games. I knew a science teacher who organized an after school club to teach his students how to play D&D. He believes that these games provide students with educational benefits and can change their lives. These games can be alternatives to less productive hobbies or activities, such as drugs, gangs, etc. I also wrote about an individual who believes D&D saved his life and kept him out of prison.

Roleplaying can motivate students and encourage them to want to learn. These games can teach them about vocabulary, math, public speaking, and teamwork. They are effective teaching tools because people engage in learning more when they are actively participating.

As I stressed earlier, roleplaying games encourage people to work together and learn from one another. Together, they make these imaginary worlds come to life. In these games, every individual plays an important role and without teamwork, these adventures cannot take place.

D&D and other forms of tabletop roleplaying games are about storytelling, which is an important form of media that teaches critical thinking skills and helps people improve their communications skills.

These games encourage creativity and give people a chance to learn by doing something fun. They give people a chance to see how they can create meaning in what they are learning.

Creativity and critical thinking are important skills that help people become successful on their adventures in life.

Importance of creativity in education

“Creativity is the New Literacy”. That is what Chase Jarvis, a world-renowned photographer told the crowd at GeekWire Summit 2013.

Jarvis stressed that as a culture we need to value creativity. He also said that creativity could solve all of humanity’s fundamental problems.

It is crucial for us to have an education system that fosters creativity.

Creativity is not limited to just actors, artists, musicians, etc. It even plays an important role in business.

Like Jarvis said, “Whether you are building a business or an iPhone app, creativity is the thing that drives what we do.”

Creativity is the mental and social process used to generate ideas and concepts. In other words, creativity is about innovation.

Companies such as Google and Pixar are known for creativity and innovation and for their unique workplaces (Nhan, 2012).

Creativity sometimes is not recognized or even possible without support from others (Csikszentimihalyi, 1996).

This is another reason why educators need to encourage creativity.

Sir Ken Robinson has spoken twice at TED about how schools kill creativity. He explained that there are three major reasons:

First, they promote standardization and a narrow view of intelligence when human talents are diverse and personal. Second, they promote compliance when cultural progress and achievement depend on the cultivation of imagination and creativity. Third, they are linear and rigid when the course of each human life, including yours, is organic and largely unpredictable.

Many school districts across the country have been adopting the Common Core education standards, which is President Obama’s replacement for No Child Left Behind. The Common Core provides new national standards for core subjects such as reading, writing, and math.

Ashley Lauren Samsa believes that in many ways, the Common Core is a great thing for both teachers and students. She explains that with the focus no long being on content, educators can teach whatever they want in their classroom as long as students are taught to read, write, and think critically. However, she is concerned that with Common Core’s emphasis on nonfiction texts, technology, and career skills, teachers might forget about creativity.

The advocates of the Common Core standards say that we need Common Core otherwise students will not be prepared for college or a career

According to Diane Ravitch, there is no evidence that these standards will prepare students for careers because there is nothing in them that has any relationship to careers.

Ravitch stresses that schools across the nation are suffering from budget cuts. This means less time and resources for subjects like arts, physical education, and other subjects, which are crucial for a real education.

These programs are essential to promoting creativity.

As I stressed earlier, creativity is about innovation and plays an important role in business.

In a previous blog, I talked about how interactive games and tabletop roleplaying games can be used as a teaching tool to promote storytelling and foster creativity and learning. I mentioned how a school in Demark used roleplaying as a teaching method for all academic subjects.

I wrote in Interactive games and tabletop roleplaying games as a teaching tool:

Roleplaying and storytelling can be used to motivate students and encourage them to want to learn. These games are effective because students engage in learning more when they are actively participating and it is important to work with their interests.

The constructivist learning theory is the best way to encourage creativity in the classroom. According to Gabler and Schroeder (2002), the theory is about providing students with ways to connect what they learn in the classroom to the real world; it focuses on how students can create meaning in what they are learning.

Every student has a different style of learning but an effective strategy to motivate all students is to focus on how students can create meaning in what they are learning. By incorporating the constructivist learning theory into the curriculum, educators can help students learn beyond the classroom experience and encourage creativity.

In Journalism is not dead, importance of storytelling, I discuss the importance of media literacy and how a journalism education teaches people how to become better storytellers. I stressed that we need to emphasize the importance of journalism and photography as forms of storytelling.

Teachers need to make sure that their classrooms emphasize creativity and critical thinking skills.

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References

Csikszentimihalyi, M. (1996). Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention. New York, NY: HarperCollins.

Gabler, I.C. and Schroeder, M. (2002). Constructivist Methods for the Secondary Classroom. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Manders, D. (2013, September 16). “Creativity is the New Literacy” – Chase Jarvis Stirs up the Crowd at GeekWire Summit 2013. Flip the Media. Retrieved from http://flipthemedia.com/2013/09/creativity-is-the-new-literacy-chase-jarvis-stirs-up-the-crowd-at-geekwire-summit-2013/

Nhan, D. (2012, March 6). How a creative work environment encourages more risk – and more rewards. SmartBlogs. Retrieved from http://smartblogs.com/leadership/2012/03/06/how-a-creative-work-environment-encourages-more-risk-and-more-rewards/

Ravitch, D. (2013, August 24). The Biggest Fallacy of Common Core Standards: No Evidence [Blog] Retrieved from http://dianeravitch.net/2013/08/24/the-biggest-fallacy-of-the-common-core-standards-no-evidence/

Robinson, K. (2012, December 7). Do Schools Kill Creativity. Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sir-ken-robinson/do-schools-kill-creativity_b_2252942.html

Samsa, A.L. (2013, September 3). I Welcome Common Core education standards, but let’s not forget creativity. The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/sep/03/common-core-national-education-standards

Interactive games and tabletop roleplaying games as a teaching tool

Interactive games and tabletop roleplaying games can be used as a teaching tool to promote storytelling and foster creativity and learning.

Every student has a different style of learning but an effective strategy to motivate all students is to focus on how students can create meaning in what they are learning. By incorporating the constructivist learning theory into the curriculum, educators can help students learn beyond the classroom experience and encourage creativity.

Storytelling is an important form of media that teaches critical thinking skills and helps people improve their communications skills. More importantly, it encourages students to be creative and gives them a chance to learn by doing something fun.

At the 2011 Gifted and Talented Symposium held in Austin, TX, Bonnie Cramond, a professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Georgia discussed how she used interactive fantasy games to teach mythology. Using a simplified version of Dungeons and Dragons (D&D), she gave her middle school students a chance to collaborate and learn material in a different way. She discovered that her students would read the myths (they weren’t assigned readings), thinking that they could gain an advantage in the game (Mewes, 2011).

There is a boarding school in Denmark that developed its curriculum around roleplaying. Østerskov Efterskole (Østerskov School) provides their students with an opportunity to learn and express their creativity. According to the school’s website, their goal is to use roleplaying as a teaching method for all academic subjects.

For many years, a friend of mine who is a high school science teacher organized an after school club to teach students how to play D&D and other roleplaying games. He believes that these games not alone provide students with educational benefits; they can change their lives. These games can be alternatives to less productive hobbies or activities, such as drugs, gangs, etc.

I know an individual who believes D&D saved his life and kept him out of prison. This individual once had a quick temper and would often let his anger dominate him. Instead of acting out his aggression, the game allowed him to focus his emotions on characters within the game. Creativity defines his identity. Ever since he was a child, he was a storyteller. He would make up fantastic stories about science and fantasy. His favorite part of these role-playing games is being able to create worlds, cities, and cultures.

There are other types of games that can be used to encourage storytelling and creativity. An example would be Rory’s Story Cubes, a game that uses dice to tell a story. With this game, nine six-sided dice are used and each side has a different image (54 different images) that can be used to inspire the storyteller.

Roleplaying and storytelling can be used to motivate students and encourage them to want to learn. Roleplaying games can teach students about vocabulary, math, public speaking, teamwork, and about dealing with loss and success. These games are effective because students engage in learning more when they are actively participating and it is important to work with their interests.

Roleplaying games also encourage students to work together and learn from one another. Together, they make these imaginary worlds come alive. It is often believed that only individuals can truly be considered creative. However, teamwork can be an important aspect of creativity. Berleson (1965) used a description about theatrical productions that seems rather appropriate to compare to. He explained that a group could not have created Shakespeare’s work, but it takes a team to perform them. In D&D, every person plays an important role. Without teamwork, these adventures do not happen.

“Without this playing with fantasy no creative work has ever yet come to birth. The debt we owe to the play of imagination is incalculable” (Jung,  [1921] 1971, p. 82).

 

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References

Berelson, B. (1965). Creativity and the graduate school. In G. A. Steiner (Ed.), The Creative Organization (pp. 214-226). Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Jung, C. ([1921] 1971). Psychological Types (Collected Works, Volume 6), Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.

Mewes, T. (2011, June 16). Foundation continues symposium support. Austin Daily Herald. Retrieved from http://www.austindailyherald.com/2011/06/16/foundation-continues-sponsoring-symposium/