Earlier this week, I had my most succesful single class, ever. Hunters and Healers. Woot!
I opened by telling the players that a Repaer had been seen in the river near Esab (our city). Repaers catch the weak and the outliers (had to explain that vocab word), so we want our cohort to be strong and cohesive. “In order to ensure that you are all strong,” I said, “we’re going to play Hunters and Healers.”
“To hunt, you will look at other players’ Codex entries (our name for blogs) and find any missing entries, any that are too short, weakly composed, etc. If you successfully hunt a Codex author, you must then help Heal by ensuring the author is aware of the problem and writes or improves the entry. As the Hunter, you must document the original version (or lack thereof) and the revised version in an entry on your own Codex.”
I offered a reward for any successful hunts (I think I’ll have to reduce it for future episodes of this sort, to keep progress better balanced). I warned that the Repaer is coming on Tuesday to wind through the Codex; anyone it catches will loose health and have to pay a healer as well. I set it elicit high motivation, at a nerf (subtraction) that most of the players don’t quite have yet, so they’d end up in the negative. It’s not too stressful, though, because I don’t grade based on points this year (more about that soon).
Both of the players who had previously had zero Codex entries filled out their blogs completely today. Many others who were marginal (on either side of the line) substantially beefed up their entries. In spite overly analytical player pointing out that this is “just peer editing, right?” everyone had fun. Lots of fun! Most of the players will be receiving a reward for a successful hunt. The most ironic moment of the day came when two players approached to inform each other that their Codex entry needed work, and the entries were the same ones on both blogs. 🙂
It was 100% engagement, lots of good reflection and peer coaching, and a great success in my book. (Best of all, my principal chose that moment to come by for a classroom observation – what could be better than a fully engaged classroom of kids eager to explain how they were peer editing each other’s reflection websites?!?). Thanks to Mike Skocko and Rob Schwartz at the Adobe Education Exchange Game-On forum for putting me on to this idea; it’s been a really powerful one.
Follow-up: I had 4 players get caught by the Repaer and loose XP and Gold as a result. In all 4 cases, there were no arguments about it at all. I discussed it with the players that they’d have many chances to catch up and could even work outside of class if they wanted to do so. They all leaped right back into their work and don’t seem phased by the setback in the slightest. Disappointed, yes, but not disheartened. And some of the hunters are a bit chagrined to realized that they overlooked those players and feel like they let their team-mates down.
So in the end, it remains my most successful class and I’ll definitely be using this technique again.