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.
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