Structured task layering
The tasks for the student were developed in such a way as to provide skills development in the context of the broader writing task of an overall mission write up. As an example, the students writing task for one day would draw their focus to just one aspect of the overall mission task, for instance driving the car, or the process of catching the ghost, or arriving at the scene. This led to students very quickly getting an understanding of different elements of the writing task and they were able to combine these small pieces into much better writing structures.
The reporting session each morning was designed to provide the peer support and to help students to share their work and to collaborate on their learning. The dynamics of this session were really interesting from a teacher’s perspective and the peer group dynamics powerful.
Students mostly did the write-ups outside the class time and the next day no-one was allowed on the computers until all that team’s write-ups were done. The motivation and interest in the process was so high that students complied strongly with this and put in the effort to do the writing tasks and nearly always had their write ups done. In one instance a student had not completed their write up, because the family had been out the night before, and the peer dynamics were at risk of turning ugly as this was stopping the entire group from doing their turn on the computer for their game session.
An intervention by the teacher pointed out the choice of upsetting the student further or all pitching in and helping get the write up done. This led to some great group support and this became a feature of the morning de-brief sessions where students read their write ups from the day before and discussed strategy. There was a lot of really supporting comments and and help with any catch up tasks.
This “motivation factor” was I believe a very significant factor in the success of this programme and shows the importance of having students find things they are interested in. The layering of tasks or subtasks in a manner that helps students build their confidence and understanding is important. The use of word processors to process and edit work also was important in the task management process. This became vital later in the process as a significant amount of editing work was required to get the final products to the publishing stage. Craig had never written more that 11 lines in a story in class but his first draft mission write up was 2 A4 pages. Previously he would have given up and not bothered to do the editing. A combination of the motivation from the process and the ability to edit drafts and make changes on a word processor rather than rewrite everything were major contributors to his success. Sylvia wrote 11 pages for her mission write up, after having never written more than a page before.
The drafts were initially written on paper, transferred to computer as a part of the first edit and then double spaced drafts were printed and used for editing and then updates were made onto the computer versions.
This process continued until it was felt the step was starting to lose its appeal, or until enough time was spent on that element of the project. The players then complied with one of the instructions from each of the following two sections:
(a) Imagine you are one of the Ghostbusters, a slimer, or the marshmallow man and write the story from your own viewpoint.
(b) The ghosts are taking over. You feel they may capture you and you want to leave a set of instructions and warnings for the ghostbusters who replace you.
Other activity tasks
(a) Design traps and other ghostbusting equipment. Draw diagrams that show the mechanisms and write notes explaining how it works, what it does, how it could be used.
(b) Design a HOUSEHOLDERS ACTION SHEET that can be distributed in the city explaining what action householders should take if they are attacked by slimers or ghouls.
(c) Design an advertisement for the Ghostbusters company.
During the briefing (after the first session on the game) draw a map of the game board.
Poetry writing in the creative writing session.
Drama activities and role playing.
Art and Craft
-draw things from movie or game
-make a board game.