Teacher Tales

Saved by Druidawn

This child was one of dozens of boys who came to our school whose first words were, “Don’t ask me to write anything, because I won’t. I HATE WRITING!!!”

After investigating the causes of this attitude, sure enough I found a sequencing deficit, poor fine motor skills, low self-esteem, and little knowledge of the mechanics of writing. I did the same thing with this child that I’ve done with many, many others. I turned him on to Legends of Druidawn.

I started out by saying, “You don’t need to write to play this game. You can dictate to me or to my assistant. If you do choose to write for yourself, you will get double points for each word written. Words are worth money on Druidawn. You can use them to purchase items and pets and magic powers for your character.”

The child did exactly what the others have always done. He chose to fill out the character sheet himself, since the form doesn’t require complete sentences or proper spelling. Filling out the character sheet for this game is a terrific icebreaker. What these kids hate most is a blank page staring at them. Then all the pressure is on them to put something there. But when they see the character sheet and it’s already crammed with words, and all they have to do is fill in small parts, some of which are only numbers, it takes all the pressure off. It changes from a writing activity to a gaming activity. Much better!

Many kids enjoy filling out the character sheet so much that they make several characters before they even start playing the game! It gives them power they would never have in the real world… to create a player from the ground up and exude complete control over him. Plus, the game comes with numerous lists of choices for personal features and magic powers – fun choices to make and exciting things to think about. Even though the character sheet requires a small amount of writing, it’s easy, and so enjoyable that they hardly notice it.

Next we play the game as if no further writing needs to happen. With all the pressure off, kids begin to write things on their own just so they can rack up points. Their words are worth triple points if they work on editing and spell-checking their writing. Parents and teachers can help them do this. This system is highly motivating. As they write more, they become better writers, especially if they get feedback on their work.

Legends of Druidawn worked beautifully for this particular child, and now he’s a self- proclaimed writer, whose story will be published in the next volume of Druidawn.

His story is the most common one to tell. But I have many others that aren’t so common. In fact, I’ve taught many one-of-a-kinds, and I’ll be posting more of their stories as the weeks go on.

Visit Druidawn.org and explore Druidawn further.

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