SUCCESS OR FAILURE?
The program was highly successful with the first group of students. Nine students were chosen on the basis that they had difficulties in the area of language and were considered to be underachieving.
The group was taken for approximately fourteen one hour sessions over a period of three weeks. (The program was modified slightly because not enough time was available to follow all steps as would be the case in a class situation). The groups were allowed to play the game and then write up the mission they completed. This continued for about four or five missions depending on the group. The children were then asked to write a major story based on a mission they made up for themselves.
The students responded extremely well to the program, girls as well as boys. Most of the written work was done as homework, but had to be completed before the next game was played. Two of the boys even wrote their stories outside during recess.
All members of the group exhibited an improvement in their ability to build a story. The method lends itself to the process writing approach as the mission write ups give the opportunity to develop ideas, vocabulary
etc for use in the major stories. In the books used by the children this development can be seen quite clearly.
The results were quite powerful with students turning around their primary school education in a term. The average size of the mission write-ups began at less than half a page and the content very poor, but by the end of the missions, the average size of a write up had grown to about a page and the content had improved considerably. To see this from students who would not normally write was very rewarding.
I was not prepared for the staggering amount of work the group did on their major stories: the average size was three and a half handwritten pages (more than any of the group had written before) and ranged from two pages to five and a half pages. They were also the best stories they had ever written. The content was not perfect of course but, as first drafts they were exceptional (considering the previous work achieved by these students).
The students' self-esteem and confidence improved significantly with students showing general improvements in their class work. It is interesting to note that several of the boys showed this really significant improvement in performance across all of their subjects.
A sample is shown below. In Craig's initial story ideas are disjointed, there is no fIow, the story is short and the structure poor.
In the fourth mission write up Craig has started to develop a story flow and a sequence. The structure is still weak and the story short, but the potential for a good story is there. The final story has length, a good plot and sequence of events.
The story was great for a first draft and the final story, after the editing and stages of the writing process had been completed, is also shown. The story ended up as a book in the library, illustrated and in a
One very interesting result was the extent of co-operation within the groups. These were mixed and, initially, there was a few squabbles about who was playing the game and who was taking notes etc. The groups were toId everyone had to rotate from one game to the next. By the end of the sessions all groups were rotating turns during the same game and criticism of people who made mistakes was being replaced by advice and
There were also numerous opportunities for oral language activities, as the students wanted to tell others about how they achieved success or what certain pieces of equipment could do.
One of the most significant results was that the classroom teacher noted
a large improvement in attitude and behaviour of the members of the
group. This improvement in five of the cases has been across all areas of
their work and their attitude in particular. Three of the members have
shown an improved abillty to write and an improvement in their attitude
to writing. (The other member has left the schoo)).
Overall, the program has been highly successful. It works very well with
the process writing approach, provides excellent motivation, and seems to
have a flow on to other areas. Indicators are that in subsequent writing
tasks in the class the members of the group have moved up to the class
average. I feel sure the improvement will continue.
CRAIG Mission 1 - Initial Draft un-edited
We were the drivers we got to ghosts and got slimed 3 times
Marshmallo man all of our money. $0 we bought traps vacuum
stationwogonand marshmallo sensor. I lernt today was how to trap
and catch the ghosts and catcth the ghost with the vacuum cleaner.
tomorrow silva is going to drive the car and I will press the B
bution also tana will right about the game. The best part is when
you get slimed and the ghostbuster gose he slimed me.
Craig - Mission 4 - Initial Draft unedited
I was driving down Union 3 and 4 our first alert was at church st 4
a fifth we went there strait to the house and I got out of my car and
silva came after me. we jumped out into pisihion us in a way to
catch the slimer we got after a while and he was worth 600 doller.
We went to the next alert at union 4 and fifth when we got there he
had gon. So there was no alert we went to G. H. Q. to empty the traps.
Craig - Final Story - Initial Draft (part only)
We got our first customer at 2.20 in the morning. Mrs Williams
pointed out which room the big fat slipry slimmer was in. We went in
her bedroom we stood behind the door and pulled out the pk energy
dector to see if he was in the room for shore it showed that it was in
there so I said on the count of Ihree one two Ihree and we buged in
there he was on the shandelir rocklng, we fired at him with the
lazers and mised him. and he zoomed out of the door. He went into
the kitchen and he was in the frig, he was eating the cold sogigers.
We went in ond closed the door we fired at the slimer and the lazers
burnt a hole in the frig but we had him in the lazers we pulled down
and the trap done Its job. After we caught him we went to see Mrs
Williams I said four thousand dollars she said “what I am not paying
That kiind of money we can always put it bock you no. Do you take
chekes yes we do.