Sunday, 11 December 2011

Turning the class into an RPG (Part 2)

So, the time has come. Last week our brave heroes set out to kit themselves out in the best gear, sharpened their axes, restrung their bows and filled their inventories with maester's potions and foods. Today is the day they put their strategies to the test as they face off against the other groups in a one on one battle to the death!

Well, maybe not that dramatic, but still, there was a lot of tensions in the class today as groups were paired up for their tabletop style RPG battle against other groups. Below describes how I went about teaching this lesson.

1. Show them the battle video

This serves two purposes, one is to refresh their memories of the battle system, the other is for them to mine it for vocabulary and phrases to use themselves when they do their own battles. Students are thus told to take notes as they watch the video and then compare their notes with their group members afterwards. Once they have done this, I had students come up to the whiteboard to write down anything that they heard as me and my colleague played. The board then acts as a cheat sheet for when students do their own battles, allowing them to refer to it when they can't think of what to say.



2. Write questions to ask your opponents


The rules of the battle state that once a character has been reduced to zero armor, they must answer a question. If the group answers the question correctly, they do not lose a life and can continue. However, if they answer a question incorrectly, they lose a life. Once a group has lost three lives, they have lost. At this point then, I had students think of questions to put to their opponents. I created 10 sample questions for each group to show what kind of questions were considered suitable and as a model. Below are a few of my sample questions.

Question 1

What is the capital of Scotland?

  • London
  • Edinburgh
  • Florence
  • Dublin


Question 2

What is the largest continent in the world?

  • Asia
  • North America
  • Europe
  • Africa


Question 3

What is the highest mountain on earth?

  • Mt. Fuji
  • Mt. McKinley
  • Mt. Everest
  • Mt. Ararat


Question 4

If a woman gives birth to triplets, how many babies does she have?

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4

Students thought up similar question based on their major, the presentation they had given a few weeks before, and other general knowledge subjects such as capital cities and animals etc.


3. Battle Time!

Following this, the groups were paired up and put to battle. They were instructed that they were to speak to the other group in English only. If they spoke Japanese to their opponents, their turn was over. I did however allow some Japanese during within-group strategic speech. Below are some pictures of the battles.

4. Improvements

One thing that could be improved with this activity is moving the question making activity out of the classroom time and getting students to do this for homework. The reason is that some groups didn't make a lot of questions and actually ran out of questions to ask their opponents. This led to them trying to make up questions on the spot which made the battle drag on and become uninteresting. 

So, for the final class which has not done this activity yet, I have told them that if they run out of questions during the battle stage, they will have to forfeit the game. This class has also been instructed to make five questions each (20~25 per group) at home before they come to class next week (the battle lesson for this class). I'm hoping this should keep the action high and as a result, games possibly finishing quicker. If this happens, I would like to run the battles in a tournament style where we can see which group is the strongest! Of course, they will be the strongest based on their character development, strategy and general knowledge!