Video Game Design: Planning/Storyboarding/Creating

Video Game Design Storyboards 2023

We’re in the midst of our annual Video Game Design Project, in which my sixth graders use Gamestar Mechanic (which continues to work for us … phew) to explore how to tell a story through the platform of a video game. It’s challenging, and interesting, and completely engaging for my students, and a way for me to teach storytelling in a different way.

Video Game Design Narratives 2023

Our focus: telling a narrative story through the building and publishing of a video game, so that the player is a reader of the story that is in the form of a video game.

They are now in the design phase of the games themselves but these collages capture some of the planning pages from the project, as they have to think through the narrative story their game will tell before the building process in Gamestar.

This collection is from another year, showing the insides of games. I use this as a mentor text with students, to show some games that were successful in integrating story into game.

Peace (and Plans),

Students’ Perceptions Of Self

Student SelfPerception WordCloud Wall

As part of a social emotional curriculum, we ended an activity around self-perception with students creating Word Clouds of personality traits they would assign themselves, and then used Padlet to make a wall of words. It’s a pretty cool visual (I filtered it a bit for privacy and to make it a little more artistic) that demonstrates some keen insights by our sixth graders.

Peace (and personality),

Fancy Letters

Illuminated (artistic) Letters

We’re reading Book: My Autobiography, about the history of stories and books, and the concept of Illuminated Letters provides a nice path to doing some artwork, as students use their name initials to create a version of an “illuminated letter” from the Middle Ages.

Peace (coloring it in),

Slice of Life: Comics As The New Year Starts

(This is for the Slice of Life, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We write on Tuesdays about the small moments in the larger perspective and then all through March — every single day  …  You write, too.)

Today, we go back for the new school year with staff. Tomorrow, the kids return, and then we’re off to the races. It seemed like a time to try my hand at some “start of the year” comics.





Peace (in panels),

Slice of Life: Student End of Year Reflections

Learning About Writing (student reflections)

As we near the end of this school year, I have asked my sixth grade students to “grade” me on a variety of topics, giving me some anonymous input and information about how they perceived me as a teacher of writing, reading and technology.

The first set of questions center on writing, and I wondered if they identified growth in themselves as writers, and if our regular writing activities were central to how they thought about our ELA class this year. (see chart above)

I was pleased to see that most students thought they emerged as a better writing, and that they learned new skills and new genres this year in the field of writing. My aim is always to support them as writers and then challenge them in new directions as well.

Other parts of the survey connect to reading, technology and my role as a teacher. I left a space for them to write me a comment, if they wanted, and it warmed my heart to read what they wrote. A few stood out.

When I first came to 6th grade ELA was my least liked class but, now after this year I have come enjoy writing. Thank you for all you have done for me, I enjoyed my time in your class and I’m sure that many people in the future will enjoy your class too. I think one thing you can do better as a teacher would be to allow more free write (story writing) in the year and also sometimes have a share time for people to share their work. Over-all I enjoyed being in your class. Thank you for being a great teacher.

Overall ELA class was my favorite class this year. I like when we were able to to free write in our notebook. ELA class entertaining and fun the majority of the time. Your positive mindset help with the overall vibe in class this year. I think you should keep doing writing prompts and let students explore with writing more on their own. Thanks for a great year.
This ELA class was the best one so far, keep it up Mr. Hodgson. I would not change anything

Peace (in thoughts and reflection),

CLMOOC Silent Sunday


Ok — so not completely silent this Sunday: this is a gift from a student, one with whom I have struggled to keep engaged in learning all year. Sometimes, a student surprises you, and so they did, with this beautiful work of art on large canvas.

Peace (and imagination),

Slice of Life/Day in a Poem (Day 1): The Masks Are Off

(This is for the Slice of Life challenge, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We write on Tuesdays about the small moments in the larger perspective and then all through March — every single day  …  You write, too.)

I’m watching her talk;
the first time in the classroom
with her mask, fully off,
and there’s something wondrous
about such a moment
of clarity that comes coupled,
uncomfortably, with concern

Peace (first day with no mask requirement),

Slice of Life: To Mask Or Not

(This is for the Slice of Life challenge, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We write on Tuesdays about the small moments in the larger perspective and then all through March — every single day  …  You write, too.)

Our School Committee members voted the other night to lift our mask mandate at our school when we return from February break next week. They had sent out surveys to teachers and parents, but not students. That got me irritated, as they seem to consistently avoid asking students what they think, so I revamped their parent survey and had my sixth graders voice their opinions. I sent it off to the School Committee before their meeting, and to its credit, the chairman shared the students survey in the meeting before any other results.

Mask Mandate Zooming
The School Committee ignored advice from the health officials on the timing of lifting the mask mandate, but the discussions – even in the public hearing section – were civil and thoughtful, a rarity in today’s meetings (even in our town).

I wasn’t surprised to see my students voting in the majority to lift the mask mandate, as this is a fairly conservative community and students are generally just tired of wearing masks, but I was curious and a little concerned about the second question, asking them whether they will still wear masks even if the mandate was dropped.

MaskPolicySurvey (student response)

A full third of the students who took the survey indicated they weren’t sure, although I know many have thought about it and talked about it, and as we approach this moment of shift in masking, I know there are going to be some students who want to wear a mask for protection, and are allowed to, but may not, due to pressure from friends, either overt or not.

I don’t know how family decisions will play into all of this either, since we are not going to be policing which students have been given permission to wear masks and which have not.

As a teaching team, we’re already mulling on ways to make all students comfortable in whatever decision they make, and to accept and support any decision anyone else makes, as well. We’ve had discussions about Morning Meeting as a time to reinforce talk of respecting opinions in a larger community and we’ve talked about us, teachers, wearing masks, even if we wouldn’t otherwise, as an act of solidarity to any students feeling on the edge or uncertain. I am sure the administration has information going home, as well.

It seems as if every step of the way in this Pandemic, we keep having to learn new ways to navigate forward, and strategies to help our students do the same.

Peace (in choice),

Slice of Life: As It Once Was

(This is for the Slice of Life challenge, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We write on Tuesdays about the small moments in the larger perspective … or is that the larger perspective in the smaller moments? You write, too.)

It’s not that I don’t ever see my students without masks — snack, lunch, walks outside, etc. — but with our state now lifting mask requirements for schools at the end of the month and my school district likely this week to follow suit at the local level (although what that will look like, we don’t quite know), I’m trying to remember what it was like to see all those young faces, to see all the smiles, to notice the full looks and emotional reactions on faces, as it once was, all the time.

In class discussions, there’s a wide range of reactions by students to this possible news of ending the mask mandate. Some can’t wait. Others seem nervous. When something lasts two years, it becomes a sort of reality, the way things are. Masks have protected, hidden and defined us in many ways.

Maybe we can step forward, carefully and guided by science, into a new reality yet again (same as the old reality) and as a teacher, I will be able to better read the room again, the way things might yet still be.

Peace (thinking forward),

PS — the downside to loosening masks? Litter. This was my morning poem today after noticing our playground area yesterday:

Beneath this snow
and ice pack of winter,
abandoned masks
litter this place –

It’s confetti, like loose parts
and colored fabric bits,
so we bide our time
to gather on it

The ripped strings
as abandoned seeds,
but nothing here’s rooted
or anchored by trees