One of the easiest ways I have implemented games in the classroom is to quickly create scene mechanics for a class of students and teachers that are easy to follow. I used Microscopes scene mechanics and content that is easily recognizable so students and teachers could quickly get to the purpose of what we are doing as a practice. When I taught it to teachers I used Romeo and Juliet as the background for the scene framing because it was a content that almost everyone understood.
Below were the steps I gave everyone:
Microscope – Scene
Choose a Player 1 (they will make some of the choices in the next part)
Player 1: Choose which of the following questions you’d like to answer in a story from Romeo and Juliet
- Why do the Capulets and Montague’s hate each other so much
- What advice should the Prince of Verona have for dealing with the Montagues and Capulets fighting in the streets
- Who should be held responsible for the deaths of Romeo and Juliet
Player 1: Create a one or 2 sentence setting of where you want your scene to take place that answers your group’s question
Player 1: Choose up to 2 characters that have to be in the scene and up to 2 characters who cannot be in the scene
Player 2: In clockwise order starting with player 2 decide one character you want to be in this story. (they can be any character, from Romeo and Juliet or make up your own character that should be in the story) share one at a time what character each of you wants to be in this scene Name and who they are. (Read below about time!)
“Instead of playing a normal character, one player in a Scene can choose to play Time, a special type of character. Time represents forces or groups of people who are pushing the situation to some conclusion, for good or ill. The barbarians at the gates, the cavalry come to the rescue, the angry mob, the black plague, the tanking economy–these could all be Time.” (Microscope, Ben Robbins 2011)
In your group, in clockwise order, each share one thought what your character is thinking with the group.
Play out a scene until you answer the question you wanted to learn about (or 10 minutes are up)
If time switch player one to a second player and repeat the process with a 2nd question
With these quick set of rules, everyone was able to quickly get into a scene and run one. It took 30 minutes to understand the point of the game and explore an unanswered question in Romeo and Juliet. I know this is very structured compared to Microscope, but I wanted deeply to get to the core of the game. Microscope is about answering unanswered questions and in novels there are so many questions unanswered that it’s easy to make a scene about them.
I’d love to get to the point where like in Microscope everyone writes their own questions, but for now, teacher-led questions are a fine jumping point for scene exploration. I still encourage students to choose their own characters and the one thought idea is so crucial for storytelling. By the end though they took it and ran with it further than expected. Some groups were looking at copies of Romeo and Juliet to answer some questions. This is how I know I achieved success when students are wanting to dive deeper into the novel and explore it further because they are now immersed in the novel. It motivates teachers and students and helps them understand complex material better than just reading. I encourage anyone to try this with a classroom of students. Choose 4-5 unanswered open-ended question in a novel or story. Replace them with the questions I thought of and see what happens. It can take 30 minutes to an hour to pull off and the students will be that much more motivated to explore the novel further after it.