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Monsters Attack!


Today the green, sticky spawn of the stars, Cthulhu, came to my class. Which is simply a fancy way of saying that my 3rd grade Elementary English class just got wonderfully dorky!

Part of my research on ways to improve student Language Acquisition is to focus on creating things students are interested in talking about. Such as interesting and meaningful experiences or intellectually involving concepts. If those interesting things use English, it should help English to take root in their lives. Thus enters Cthuhlu, the abhorrent, sanity-melting, mysterious yet charming world-famous monster created by novelist H.P. Lovecraft.

In previous lessons, students went on imaginary safari, spied on Pokemon-like monsters and described them as being "like a fire monkey" or being "like a thunder rat". Next they drew their own monsters (a classic teaching technique), named them, and described them using the same formulae. Today I introduced the game mechanics for having the monsters fight each other. A simple Pen and Paper Role-Playing Game system of rolling dice to determine the damaged dealt between rival monsters. My students were naturally intrigued; familiar with the idea from video games, but maybe this is their first time to play the game using paper, dice, and imagination. The math wiz kid was the first to get hooked, running around calculating Hit Points for his friends, and as the monsters clashed and dice flew, even the initially confused student caught on quickly to the flow of the game. With a simple English phrase aggressively sung before rolling the dice, and a basic set of English commands to tell each other their intentions ("This monster fights that monster!"). They were really getting into it, and they were getting some nice English in with the set phrases and as a bonus, using math in English.


But, that's when the evil monsters attacked! Rigging an alarm through my iPad, the warning bells shrieked and demanded attention. The students looked up at the sound, to find the mind-melting horror that is Cthuhlu the ancient one, and his evil gang of horrid monsters which I had prepared as an ambush. An epic battle raged, as behemoths clashed, and students pumped their fists in the air with victory and anguish. In the end, of course, the students were victorious. Expelling my rotten monsters from our classroom... But, that is not dead which can eternal lie. And with strange aeons even death may die... So it might not be the last my students see of the unspeakable Lovecraftian horror. It is certainly not the end for this game. The students left asking if we could play it again, and for me it's just another tool for the English classroom. There are numerous ways a creative teacher might slip English use into different corners of the game, and enjoy doing so in the process. I hope you enjoyed reading about it, as you can tell it was a fun lesson.

Good luck in your classes.

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