So, what is it all about, you might ask…
I have been playing with the format of boardgames for a while to get my students to reflect on the essay writing process. Getting students together in groups to design their own boardgame themed around essay writing is a really good way of getting them to think about different steps that go into this process, and to identify things they find challenging. It allows me to later talk about the steps they might not be aware of – and how we are going to address this in class. (It is also a pretty fun session, and I would recommend it to anybody who teaches a process to try out.)
Before last term, however, I had always left the fun of designing these games to the students. I have seen some wonderful ones, a lot based on Snakes and Ladders, some on Monopoly, memorable versions of Twister and Cluedo, and other that freestyle it. But then I was wondering what my version would look like. I also was trying to explain to my students how the sessions we do in class map onto the researching and writing they should do, which I always struggled with. So one day I started doodling a game, fitting it into the analogy of the iceberg (which you might be familiar with from Writing Essays by Pictures), that some things are visible over the waterline – i.e. the writing of drafts and the finished piece – and some are invisible under the waterline – i.e. the research. But what in my experience students often didn’t understand (or at least failed to put into practice) is that you don’t do all the research first and then just write it up; in order to put together a great essay, you do some research, some writing, some more research, some rewriting, etc. And the iceberg shape works for that – if you are on a path starting in the middle, going down, then coming up, then going down (this time deeper), and coming back up again. Putting this together as my own sketched version of the game, I could explain this journey much more clearly than with just a timetable – and I liked it so much I made a basic handout for my second years as well, to remind them of the stages that should go into writing an essay.
After sharing this with some colleagues as well (for example at the session I wrote about here) I thought why not turn this into a version that is shareable, hence the Kickstarter project. If you want to find out more, and maybe want to get your very own Writing Essays by Pictures Boardgame Blueprint poster or game, please check it out and pledge your support!