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This is the final post for my Walking Simulator Class.
Alright, we finished the first semester! That means that the unit is over and come next week, I will be starting this unit over with a new batch of students. In the previous post, I went over the final essays my students wrote about based on one of the two games we played in class. This post is more of an overall reflection of the unit and the successes of teaching with Gone Home and What Remains of Edith Finch.
Whenever I finish a unit I like to run a Socratic Circle/Seminar as a final debrief activity. Unfortunately a lot of my students had to work on college applications so you can see in the image that only 11 of my 15 students in the class could partake in this final conversation. It was very fruitful nonetheless.
Socratic Seminars are always very student centered in my class. I do my best to stay off to the side and only speak if the class gets off track. I also have a big stuffed Superman that I use as a talking piece. You can see his head right there in the middle of the photo. I also usually provide three questions beforehand that are the foundation of the discussion. For this lesson the three questions were 1) What was good - What went well? - What did you like? about the Walking Simulator Unit? 2) What was bad - What did not go well? - What didn't you like about the Walking Simulator Unit? and 3) Do you recommend teaching this unit or something similar again in the future? Why or why not? The students do not actually write down their own responses- Instead they share out loud and are required to write down the responses of their peers. I do this because they are all English Language Learners and this helps them practice their listening skills. You can see six examples of this below.
Some of my favorite responses from the first question are . . .
"The games is like connected to the real life."
"She think that all games was only shooting and action games and now she know there are other games."
"This class show game is not just about fun but can learned also."
"I like the games we that play and how we analyze it."
Based on the responses, it is clear that both Gone Home and What Remains of Edith Finch resonated with the students.
Some important takeaways I have from the second question are . . .
"The games are too short."
"I could not see the character's face."
"People were talking and I didn't hear some details."
These first two points may seem like superficial complaints, but some students may need a longer story in order to build a stronger connection with the characters in the game. The same could be true for seeing your characters face which we never do since both games are from the first person perspective. I already have some other games in mind that I can teach in the future to remedy these issues.
Across the board, my students recommended that I should continue teaching this unit to other students; as can be seen in the responses to question 3. They all thought it was a fun way to learn about and apply skills they have learned in their previous ELA classes. Writing essays can be really boring, but writing about video games can actually be entertaining.
I always give students the opportunity to write about how they felt after a Socratic, since they spent time writing down what their peers thought. Here you can read through the same six students detailing whether or not they thought the Walking Simulator unit was successful. I'm happy to see that it was! One of my main goals is to make education fun and engaging and seems like I accomplished this goal.
While there were definitely some hiccups, I could not be happier with this class. The students were receptive from the very first day and it was by far the most engaging unit I have ever taught. It was fun, thought provoking, and most importantly it adhered to Common Core Standards ;). I'm half joking about Common Core because I don't really care too much about standards myself, but I know this is important to show for many schools.
I can't wait to teach this unit again next week with a new batch of students. It has also inspired me to create more units like this one that could be taught over the course of a semester. I would love to hear any ideas you all have.
Thanks for sticking around with me during this class,