Tag Archives: The Great Gatsby

Playing Ivanhoe

I introduced Ivanhoe to my IB English I students this past Thursday, and we played the game as a final activity for our study of The Great Gatsby. I gave directions almost identical to those that Professor Sample posted on the screen for us in class, and I modeled the roles after those we used for “The Story of an Hour.” In addition to including Fitzgerald, a literary critic, Dr. Phil, and Baz Luhrmann (as the film director), I included a few characters from the novel, as well as a couple of characters from other works they’ve read so far this year. At first, my students were very unsure about this “game.” They were looking at me as if I was speaking in another language, but I kept going, insisting they would ‘get it” once they started playing. And they did! Overall, the game was a success! Here are some of my observations:

  • Students loved the creative license…once they realized how much they actual had!
  • The majority of students got into the game! One of my classes has lunch in the middle of our class and students were asking, “Are we going to keep playing after lunch? This is awesome!” Another student described the activity as “tight.”
  • Students were very honest and free with their responses. Some responses became R-rated and students got uncomfortable when I was walking around. I stopped listening in on some groups—they weren’t being horribly inappropriate and they were really getting into it, so I figured it was okay.
  • Many groups had a lot of fun seeing how their collaborative narrative came together. A couple of groups had disconnected narratives throughout the game.
  • The students who really got into the game the most are students who aren’t really the strongest writers or analytical thinkers. And, yet, their responses clearly required analytical thinking.
  • Some students were concerned about how they were going to “win.” I tried to explain that it’s not that type of game, but they kept asking if their group was winning, how many points they had, etc. (Finally, I started fibbing and telling the persistent groups that they were winning the game. J)
  • Some students were asking questions about the objective or purpose of the game. Sadly, we didn’t get to have good discussion after the game because we really got into playing and ran out of time at the end of class. I did have students fill out a response about the game. I asked them what they liked, what they didn’t like, what they see as benefits of playing the game, if they think it would be more effective played in a blog format, etc. I plan to discuss these responses when we return from break. (A bit of a side note…When I mentioned that the game is typically played online, I saw a lot of smiles and nods. J)
  • In the future, when I first introduce the game, I don’t think I’ll actually introduce the game. Meaning, I think I’ll assign roles without the game context. I’ll have them write their first “move” for homework (as a POV writing assignment), and then I’ll put them into groups the following class. I think it might help with the initial confusion that they had and it would allow us to get right into the activity a little better.