Combining the best of athletics, team building activities, invasion games, and the future of technology.
Part 3: The Implementation
“What is your guys team name?”
“The Puppy Ninjas.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes. We ARE the puppy ninjas.”
The games were created and the adventure was planned. However, before the games began, before the adventure started, students first needed to choose who they wanted to be. Like any role-playing game, the player must assume a role. It is part of the process – and the fun – of video games that we become a certain player. Some choose players they feel match their personalities, some choose who they wish they were, still others choose characters that are simply interesting. We had four choices…
Once all players had chosen their characters, teams could be formed – the Puppy Ninjas were about to be born.
Stage 1: Becoming a Team
Little did the students know, but the characters they had chosen were based on one of the four major personality groups in the Myers-Briggs Personality test. Students grouped themselves as either dominant, intuitive, spontaneous, or conscientious. We spent some time discussing the characters and why they chose the role they did.
In each class, students were then evenly spread out in groups of 4 to 6 students, attempting to have at least one character represented in each group (i.e. Group One = 1 Brain, 1 Healer, 2 warriors, 1 Wildcard). Students picked up on it right away that greater diversity led to greater strength – if only because each character had a certain tool during the quest and no one else could use another character’s tool.
After the teams were formed and introduced, groups were allowed to decide what they’re team names would be. This singular name would become more important later on once technology was introduced*.
Stage 2: Training Ground
The next two to three weeks was spent training. The Puppy Ninjas were a unit, so they were “forced” to do everything together. They practiced their javelin, shotput, and discus throwing skills… together. They improved their sprints, hurdles, and distance runs… together. This built camaraderie and allowed for continuous peer feedback and assessment. It also gave them an opportunity to start recognizing each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Their training was not just physical, but mental, emotional, and social, all necessary facets of their upcoming journey.
Stage 3: “Welcome to the Realm”
The quest began with those four words as the Puppy Ninjas entered the gym. I enticed them in with my words…
Long ago, when I was your age, I went in search of treasure and adventure. I travelled near and far and found many beautifully mystic things. Rubies, diamonds, gold, scrolls of knowledge, my treasures were insurmountable. But on one voyage, I was sailing to a new destination when suddenly – BAM! – I was knocked out cold. When I awoke upon a foreign beach, the ship, the crew, and my treasure were gone. That was long long ago.
However, I have received word that those brigands became shipwrecked upon the craggy rocks of Nefandria. My back is bent and my muscles weak, I fear I cannot make the trip. But, oh, if you would so dare, then enter into… the realm.
A few students stayed by the door for a second, not knowing what they were getting into, but eventually they all entered. And with that, the quest had begun.
Because this was their first experience with such a unit (and mine as well), I decided it best to go through the first few challenges with each class and help them. It was communicated to them that this help would not last forever and that they would soon need to rely on each other rather than ‘The Master’ (me).
Here are some of the things ‘The Master’ helped them to understand in those first challenges:
- How to earn and lose gold points
- How every action in “The Realm” had a consequence
- The Book of Laments (i.e. consequences)
- What they could use their tools for
- How to read through the Challenges as a team
- What certain terms meant (i.e. Immunity, Useful Tools, etc.)
- How to enter into the battle field and challenge another team
Stage 4: Levels!
The first level to the game was labeled ‘The River’. All the activities on that level were water related. The Puppy Ninjas first challenge was a cooperative game. They had to get everyone across a dangerous river without anyone touching it. Once they got to the other side, and thus finished Challenge 1.1, they found me for the ‘thumbs up’. After receiving a ‘thumbs up’ they could move on to the next Challenge. A ‘thumbs down’ meant back to the beginning of the challenge.
Challenge 1.2 was a question (found on their iPad*) they had to answer as a team. I had my Master iPad and could see on the Classcraft app which teams had finished the question. If I felt their answer showed they understood the concept they got the ‘Thumbs Up’ and could move on to Challenge 1.3. If the answer was not satisfactory then they were denied. To make sure the entire group was participating I would ask a player at random the question and/or the answer. Throughout the quest, one or two students might be distracted during the ‘question and answer’ portion. This random questioning helped to keep ALL students engaged.
Challenge 1.3 was the Battlefield. The first battle was a game of blob tag. Rules were specified on the iPad. The Puppy Ninjas were the second team to finish the second challenge, so when they entered the battlefield they were the challengers. After reading the instructions they challenged the Flying Phoenix to a game of blob tag. It was the students’ job to monitor one another’s play and enforce the rules. Future battles included soccer, handball, tug of war, foxtail tag, and capture the flag.
At the end of the game, once both teams had agreed on a winner, the winner was given the ‘thumbs up’, allowing them to progress to the next level. The losers on the other hand had to pick from the Book of Laments**. The BOL contained different tasks such as ‘crawl on your knees twice around battle field in shame’ or ‘hang your head and walk slowly back and forth across the battle field contemplating your losing ways’. The Puppy Ninjas lost.
Once a team finished the task from the BOL they were free to move to the next level, and the next set of challenges began.
Stage 5: Finishing Strong
The rest of the unit continued as such, allowing each team to move at their own pace through the challenges and levels with the help of the iPad. But you can read about HOW they finished next time…
*If you remember the previous post, each team would bring one iPad with them to class during the quest. On the iPad we had the Classcraft app downloaded. Each team, through the app, created one singular character that represented the entire team. This also became a factor if students earned or lost gold points. Their actions effected their team’s character, not just themselves. Some students made a mistake that effected the team as a whole… they rarely made that mistake again.
**The BOL was also used throughout the quest when a student made a negative decision. Some examples of this were:
- Wandering away from group
- Using their tools inappropriately or dangerously
- Being in areas they shouldn’t have been
- Spending too much time with other groups