Actual Play, Characters, & Examples  - 
Greetings all.

This is a follow-up on using Fate Accelerated Edition in my Digital Media Literacy class. It’s going to be a little long so, long story short, it went very, very well.

I teach two mixed classes of #kids, with an age range from 14 to 18. Coming from a Project Based Learning background (all classes at my school are #PBL), I went into using #FAE with the end results I wanted to see in mind. I didn’t just want #students to “play Fate”. Playing FAE was a means to an end, to get them thinking of characters and narrative, of using their imaginations and sharpening their improvisational skills. FAE was going to be the scaffolding to hang all of these outcomes on.

And it worked.

I started off by allowing the students to form story groups, and having them discuss what type of stories they would like to tell. I then asked, “What kind of words come to mind when you think about this kind of story?” This led into talking about Aspects (and made me realize educators could do this to re-enforce vocabulary words). Next, the discussion turned to what type of characters would be interesting to see in such a story. What kind of words would be used to describe them? Boom. Aspects again.

This led to handing out character sheets and creating characters. Because they had already brainstormed Aspects, that part was fast and fell into place nicely. Approaches were very easy for them to grasp, as I had volunteers explain how a character (fictional or otherwise) from a medium we all knew would use a certain Approach to solve a problem. Stunts were also easy, since FAE does a great job of scripting them out. Even though the kids did not understand exactly how the dice and Ladder would work (yet), they could easily determine whether or not they wanted an advantage they could use multiple times or just once a game session. We ended the class period with each kid sharing his or her character, focusing on their Aspects. For homework, they were shown where they could download the FAE rules and were encouraged (not forced) to read them.

On the second day, I held demo games, taking the role of Game Master and walking the students though a quick scenario with their characters, demonstrating how the dice, Fate Points, and Ladder work. Each student wore a sticky note that listed his or her character’s name, High Concept, and Trouble. I did this for each group and, when it was not their turn to play, the other groups were our “studio audience”. This made some of the kids restless, so I told them they could live-Tweet what was happening, take pictures, record video, and even ask questions/offer advice. That kept them engaged.

I did not go in with a set scenario in mind for any of the groups. Instead, I asked lots of questions, and then used the answers to set things up (along with the characters’ Aspects, of course). Demoing for each group took up the entire class period, and I relied heavily on the rules summaries found on the Fate bookmarks and at the back of the FAE book. Even the kids who did not read the rules were able to pick up the concepts quickly, and Creating Advantages were really, uh, taken advantage of. This was a pleasant surprise, as I have seen many adult gamers not grasp the full potential of this action. I also showed them how easy it was to create “bad guys” on the fly, which a couple of students felt should have been done for all characters because it was so easy. The  class ended with each group deciding who would be GM.

The rest of the week was dedicated to giving the students time to play. We moved into the cafeteria and had a mini gaming convention. I monitored what they were doing, going around, taking pictures, answering questions, and just enjoying what I was seeing and hearing.

Was each table playing FAE by the book? Oh, heck no.

Were they playing “right”? Oh, heck yes.

Remember, this was all about narrative and characters, and each table, every day, was telling stories. They were, in teacher parlance, “actively engaged”. Sometimes they would feel that a narrative had reached its logical (or, at least, satisfying) conclusion and, instead of asking to do something completely different, wanted to know if they could start a new game, usually with a different kid being GM.

What kind of stories did they tell? We had shipwrecked pirates trapped on an island that was actively trying to kill them with all kinds of unnatural weirdness. We had gangsters from the 1920s battling the truly bad gangsters to help innocent people. We had Wild West outlaws who robbed a train owned by some devious railroad tycoons. We had a group of little kids and their babysitter who were transported into a strange, alternate dimension where they developed super powers. We even had a group of anthropomorphic sticky notes escape from an office supply store and get caught up in a saga not unlike Star Wars (but with evil staplers, scissors, and liquid paper). We had more than I can remember, but it was all awesome.

So, how did I grade all of this awesomeness? In looking at the 21st Century Skills education leaders keep talking about, I focused on observing their Collaboration, Work Ethic, and Communication skills. I made rubrics for each of these and, not surprisingly, the kids received very high marks for the week.

But, the project is not over. Now that the games have stopped, the students are creating videos about their experiences. I can post links when they are finished (deadline is December 20) so you can hear from the students themselves.

In closing, I would like to mention one more thing. I have very diversified classes.

As a school, we are 65% “Free & Reduced Lunch”. We have students from urban poverty, rural poverty, and middle-class affluence. 62% are First Generation College-Bound. Demographically, we are 50% Hispanic, 25% White, 23% African-American, and 2% Asian-American. Over 25% of the kids in my classes are labeled with some kind of learning disability, ranging from autism to turrets. Some are cheerleaders. Some are in band. Some have gang affiliations. Some are painfully shy. Every single one played together and had a great time doing it.

If you’re wondering if this could be replicated in another #classroom setting, I would say, “Absolutely.”

Find some kids and help them tell a story by using FAE.
Matt Widmann's profile photoCraig “Tezrak” Hatler's profile photoCole Rape's profile photoRobert Sims's profile photo
What do you think the youngest age would be for teaching kids Fate?
That is very awesome.  I do hope that you share this stuff with your colleagues at professional meetings.
+Spencer Bowers, I think it would depend on the individual child and how much of the system you're trying to teach to consider it to be successful. Using a sliding scale, you could probably do a very short game with even a child that's of the Candyland-playing age. Just keep attention spans in mind. It's the most critical thing.

Here's a suggestion I've been wanting to try. If the child is really young, and you want to tell a story and work on basic counting skills, create a character that consists of just a High Concept and a Trouble. Ignore the Ladder. When the child wants to do something related to her High Concept, she rolls the dice and adds +1 to the outcome. For the opposition, just roll the dice with no modifier. That's her target number. If the opposition somehow involves her Trouble, add +1 to the opposition role. Something not involving her High Concept or Trouble gets no bonus and is just a straight roll vs. roll.

To make this more clear to a Visual Learner, have a token in play that whoever is getting the bonus can hold. Even a sticky note with a big "1" or "+" printed on it would work.
What an incredible story! Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Seeing so many smiling faces around tables with character sheets before them just warms my heart! What a fantastic thing you've done!
This is incredible!! I am impressed and amazed. Congratulations. I hope that you will publish something about this. More than just a summary :) Good luck in the future I hope all your future efforts are this successful.
I personally would love to hear more about this. 
This is the magic that I see when I talk about gaming being a great thing for everyone.
This is awesome. I regret that I have but one +1 to give.
This is a thing of beauty.  They will always remember you as the guy who made school a place to get your wings and fly, not  just a prison.
Thanks Les! You've done a great job being a positive example for our community, giving  kids a creative outlet, and showing education can be fun. I'm inspired.
Did you have a lesson plan or anything that formal you could show us?
Awesome project. Seems you all had a lot of fun! Keep on doing your amazing work!
I plan on working with Les to get some lesson plan like stuff out into the world. :)
+Fred Hicks -- "I plan on working with Les to get some lesson plan like stuff out into the world."  YES! I know several teachers who might be interested and would surely also enjoy this.
Thanks for all the wonderful comments, everyone. I just showed them to my students and they are stoked that so many people from around the world are taking an interest in what they are doing. You're inspiring them to be even more creative with the videos they are making since they know they have an audience. Thanks for helping them rise to the next level!
in addition to your colleagues and fellow gamers, I hope you are sharing this story with education circles and communities here on g+

so much awesome
Definitely looking forward to a few plot summaries iffen they've been keeping track of what happened :)
Reading this made me finally decide to join Teaching for America. Thanks for that.

And thanks for what you've done with these kids.
+Jonathan Hixson n, I am so very humbled that this project has helped you decide to enter into education. Stay in touch. I'll be happy to help in any way I can.
I figured 96 fate dice would go a long way towards giving you enough for each table. :)
+Les Simpson fantastic! I have an MAT in US History. This is the kind of thing I'd love to use in the classroom! Well done. I live in Spokane WA, but I was born in Ft Worth. Have family in Belton and I know how to pronounce Manor! Thank you for doing TX proud! Proud Tarleton State Grad! Woot!
As a parent planning to home school, this is awesome and inspiring. Also, Good on +Fred Hicks and Evil Hat for being supportive and generous with these children!
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