It's All Fun and (Ender's) Games in the 8th Grade!

It's All Fun and (Ender's) Games in the 8th Grade!

When reading and analyzing a book about family, isolation, and strategy what is the best way to drive home the concepts and standards in a meaningful way? By placing students into teams and having them compete in a variety of mentally and physically strategic games, of course!  Using the novel Ender’s Game as the inspiration for this cross-curricular unit and laser tag at Hanover’s Hickory Farms as the culminating activity, eighth grade teachers worked together to authenticate the learning process and make their learning memorable as well. Since the book is about a young boy who heads off to battle school in an effort to save the world, teachers created a scenario where students would “battle” one another in team challenges and then discuss how these challenges applied to the novel and their curricular subjects. Prior to the activity, students created flags, team names, and formulated strategies based on concepts from the novel. Then, each subject area enriched student learning with lessons centered around that subject’s curriculum. For the US History lesson, students discussed the pros and cons of past forms of warfare and strategy; The science segment focused on how lasers work in order to ensure points were earned or how to effectively evade the lasers; students applied math concepts to plot and graph scores in order to determine how points were attributed during a particular “battle”; exploring the use of symbolism through the creation of team flags was part of the reading segment; while students reflected and wrote in CA class about how the strategies they put into place could have been adjusted or improved as well as using textual evidence to support decisions.  When the entire unit ended students were given a chance to voice their opinions in our feedback survey. Many said that the Ender’s Game project was one of their favorite activities because they “felt like [they] were doing things for a reason, like everything went together for each class, and of course because it was fun.”  Overall, it was an experience that students and teachers will never forget that solidified and gave meaning to student learning in each subject area.