Disclaimer: For anyone who is a comic book savant, please forgive the license I took with these teams and characters. Focus on the educational value and not the slight inaccuracies in comic book lore.
The premise for the game was that an alien race, the Dominion (individual members called Dominators), came to Earth to experiment on humans and ultimately destroy the human race as we know it. The actual narrative of the story was broken up into two parts, each a quarter long, and each with a specific attainable goal.
Since the Fictamorph had been kidnapped, the goal of the third quarter was to rescue him from the alien base in which he was being held. To do this, they got a weekly message from the Fictamorph with clues about his whereabouts. These video messages were not given to the students directly; rather, I enlisted the help of various staff members throughout the school to perform as secret agents. The staff member was given multiple pieces of paper with the same YouTube link on it. As we were studying characterization, students were then taken through a series of questions and/or statements related to the secret agent, who was operating under a code name. Some were simple, such as "I am short. Do you know who I am?" Answering no would move on to another statement to help the student narrow it down. Answering yes would take the students to a list of staff names, whereupon they would make their guess. If they were right, a picture of the staff member would show up. If not, they were free to start again. As the weeks continued, the questions got more involved, such as, "Rainbow Star brushes her long, dark hair every morning. Is this an example of direct or indirect characterization?" Correct answers moved the student forward. Incorrect answers sent the student back to the beginning. Students then used the statements to compile information and determine the identity of the agent.
Code names were invented by the agents themselves. Some of the more colorful ones were, The Olympic Torch, Mama Nae Nae, Blackstar, and Chameleon. I used Google forms embedded in the Schoology Superhero group for this task. Once the heroes discovered the identity of the secret agent, they would have to go and find the agent, who would make them answer a question or perform a task before they could earn the paper. Tasks were determined by the staff member. For example, Mama Nae Nae required the students to dance the nae nae. Other agents were more topical, asking for the current frontrunners of the Democratic and Republican parties. Successfully answering or performing would yield the reward of the YouTube link and students would race back to my classroom to watch the video. All of the videos can be found here. Each video contained another clue to bring the students closer to finding the base.
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At the same time, a quarter-long challenge was set up to beg the help of four powerful characters: Blink, Firestorm, Juggernaut, and the Flash. They would need each of these characters to teleport to the base, dismantle the forcefield, break through the wall, and rescue the Fictamorph. Each character required a specific task. For example, to get Blink's card, a student was required to take a selfie in three different settings and write a descriptive paragraph about the setting, including both place and time. One student was free to complete this task alone or it could be split up among three students. Not all tasks needed to be completed individually; the only requirement was that each task be completed. Since XP was awarded for each task, it was beneficial to have multiple members complete multiple tasks, thereby increasing individual, squad, and team XP.
You guessed it. The next week was another BreakoutEDU and what they found inside was a poem. The poem explained that the goal of the 4th quarter was to defeat the Dominators and send them back to the stars. In order to do that, they needed to enlist the help of three superhero teams: the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, and the Justice League. There would be various tasks throughout the semester in order to collect heroes from all three teams. In order to discover those tasks, heroes must once again find secret agents.
This time, however, students were given a coded message which could only be decoded by using the real name of the agent. The message, once decoded, set forth a task that had to be completed in order to recruit a superhero for their cause. For example, one of the more humorous tasks was to find a connection to three Avengers in the periodic table of the elements and report their symbols. The answers? Iron Man (Iron = Fe), Captain America (Americum = Am), and Thor (Thorium = Th). Some were more academically oriented, such as four mathematical problems to recruit Mr. Fantastic and The Invisible Woman or a labelled volcano diagram to have The Human Torch and The Thing join the team. Seven lists, each containing seven items, were required to get all seven members of the Justice League, including naming the original seven members of the team.
Once the task was achieved, students were given cards like the ones you see to the right. One team member was in charge of keeping these cards safe for the duration of the quarter. Each superhero was given a certain amount of HP (health points) and a series of outcomes related to the roll of a die or two dice. These would be used in battle against the Dominators. For example, when rolling for Batman, a student would roll two dice. If a 2, 3, 4, or 5 was the total, Batman would punch the Dominator, eliciting 10HP worth of damage. This 10HP would be subtracted from the Dominator total. If a 6, 7, or 8 appeared, Batman would miss completely. If a 9, 10, or 11 appeared, bats would attack the Dominator for 20HP worth of damage. And if a 12 showed up, Batman performed an aerial assault, doing 30HP worth of damage. I also created cards for four Dominators (to be played by my assistant): a Drone, a Soldier, a General, and a Queen. Each of these had HP and outcomes on the card. I created a Flippity spreadsheet for tracking HP. The enemy was yellow and the heroes were green.
Now comes the moments you're all waiting for: THE FINAL BATTLE.
I explained the rules to the students. Students would come up to the board one by one and choose a square to reveal a question. If they answered the question correctly, they would have an opportunity to attack the Dominators. They could choose any hero that they wished and roll the die or dice. Depending on the outcome, they would either miss completely, protect themselves from attack, or do a certain amount of damage. The Dominator (played by my assistant) would then have a chance to attack that hero back. Play continued until all four Dominators or all superheroes were defeated. Although the student who flipped the question was required to answer, he or she was allowed to use any resource in the room, including papers on the walls, the internet, notes on his or her phone, even ask teammates. The goal was to see if the student could A: find the information, and B: use the information correctly. Many times students knew the answers, but didn't trust themselves and waited to ask teammates, who sometimes gave incorrect answers. It was as much a lesson for them as an assessment.
On my end, I had my tablet to keep track of right and wrong answers by filling in the cells green or red, respectively. Just like a test, the number of right answers over the total number of questions answered reveals the score. I also had to keep changing the numbers in the spreadsheet for the HP as the results of the dice rolls were revealed. The Flippity HP tracker page automatically updated. I told students that they had access to the HP tracker through Schoology and they used that information to help each other select stronger heroes to attack the Dominators. As the Drone and Soldier were defeated, I realized that I wanted to do something to make the game more interesting, so I added two new elements. I announced that the General and Queen had the power to attack anyone they wanted, not necessarily the superhero that attacked them. This made it possible for my assistant to remove superheroes from the game and heightened the excitement and challenge for the students. Of course, he focused on taking out the major players: Hulk and The Thing.
semester long game based on superheroes
weekly secret agents with messages
end of quarter challenge
end of year card and dice game for final exam
everyone had a good time